Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcome to 2011 and a Look Back at 2010

When I was a child, one of my favorite things to do before Christmas (which is what we celebrated) was to watch the "claymation" special of Rudolph's Shiny New Year. It just made my season, and I watched it up until I left home for college (yup, 18 years old and watching claymation!) It was one of those yearly events that makes me remember my childhood with great fondness. It is the reason why December is still one of my favorite times of the year regardless of its religious significance in my life.

I like to think everyone's new year begins shiny, and with that in mind, remember the goodies of the past 12 months as inspiration for the next.

So picture me raising a glass of bubbly to you all and wishing you joy, love, good food and great times with loved ones in 2011!

Top 10 posts of 2010 (as selected by my readers, according to Google Analytics)

10. Mediterranean Style Chick Pea and Kale Soup
A hearty bean soup, that ages well. It's a great way to use up veggies but also makes it easy to try out kale if you are just beginning to dip your toe into that pool.

9. Cream Chicken and Mushrooms over Biscuits
This looks decadent but it is really great comfort food. All the effort goes into making the biscuits, so make it one night when you have leftover chicken (rotisserie from the store works great!)

8. Shredded Purple Turnip Salad
If you are venturing out into your local farmers market, ask around for purple turnips - not purple topped, but purple (they look pink) ones. They are sweeter than their more common cousins and you do not have to cook them to enjoy their goodness!

7. Italian Quick Pickles
I was happily surprised that this post was so popular - I guess I am not the only sour-aholic out there! Preserving food in any way is always fun, rather like a successful science experiment. Bring the kids into the mix, their enthusiasm may surpass yours!

6. Asian Salad with Mandarin Oranges
Sweet citrus goes so well with Asian flavors, and there are so many lesser known citrus fruits out there. Explore and find new combinations!

5. Corn and Jicama Salad
Jicama is one of those ingredients (it is a root which makes it a vegetable but kind of simulates fruit with its crunchy sweetness) that I wish more people would discover. Kids especially would love to eat this edible tuber and it introduces adventure into eating.

4. Bacon, Kale, Blue Cheese Pasta Al Forno
Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Pasta, baked into gooey submission. No wonder this post was the fourth most viewed. Oh, right, there is some green vegetable in there so you don't feel too guilty!

3. Spinach Scaciatta
This truly is the love of my life foodwise (tied only with pizza). How can you beat garlickly spinach, cheese and sausage wrapped in pizza dough? That is an impossible task!

2. Coriander Chutney
This is probably my favorite condiment of all times (sometimes homemade aioli or harissa overshadow it, but not for long). Cilantro is my favorite herb, so it is no surprise then that this chutney is at the top of my list.

And finally, the most viewed post is....

1. Garlic Lovers Pasta
This isn't even my own recipe, but one widely made throughout the Minnesota Food Co-op world. But I suppose there is a reason that so many co-op delis sell it - it really is that good. What is so surprising is the creamy sauce that isn't heavy or thick. The secret is buttermilk and lemon juice mixed with the mayonnaise - it is the perfect balance to the loads of garlic.

Thanks for reading folks, I appreciate every view, every comment, and look forward to spending more time with you all as we cook and eat our way into the new decade!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Dill and Caraway

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that people buy but don't always know what to do it. Growing up in a German-Scandinavian home we ate plenty of cauliflower, mostly steamed and sometimes with a cream sauce. I even love it raw dipped in creamy dressings. It wasn't until much later in life that I discovered the deliciousness that is roasted cauliflower. Now I make it all the time and snack on it hot or cold. When I have some leftovers, this is a great and quick soup that soothes and fills your belly with goodness.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Casseroles - they are almost a dirty word in today's cook's repertoire. Conjuring images of grey, creamy, overly heavy dishes from the '70s when everything was packaged and a "casserole" was a pantry dish in the worst way. Welcome to the 21st century where casseroles are one pot, comfort food meals.

This particular dish was inspired by my need to create a healthy meal for the steam table in the Just Food Deli. When I asked my Minnesota friends what kind of casseroles they still loved to eat, everyone told me Chicken and Wild Rice. There's a reason it was an unanimous choice; the nutty, earthy flavor of wild rice compliments chicken and the traditional mire poix makes a perfect dish.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Double Salmon Dip - Smoked and Poached - Season's Eatings

 Merry Christmas, Happy Belated Winter Solstice and Early Welcome to 2011!

This dish was a gift - literally - from Stacy of Stacy & Brian's Adventures in Life. Both Stacy and I participated in a fun blog event called Season's Eatings, created and organized by Katie of Thyme for Cooking. We each signed up to send a regional ingredient from where we live to some other blogger. I sent dried chipotle peppers to Christina of Mele Cotte in Georgia and I received smoked salmon from Stacy in Oregon. Such fun!

I decided to make this dip since it had been languishing in my "to do" file for some time and figured it would be great for the Christmas Eve Smorgasbord that is my family tradition. It was quite a hit, thanks Stacy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Maple Rosemary Glazed Walnuts

When I was researching some recipes to add to Co-opportunity's Holiday Guide I came across this recipe at Pinch My Salt. It caught my eye because of the interesting mix of ingredients - maple syrup, rosemary and walnuts - not your ordinary candied nut dish. I usually trust Nicole's cooking so I gave it a try.

Whoa, this is really spectacular! It's got the savory goodness of walnuts and the herb-y, resin-y scent of rosemary plus caramelized maple syrup. Oh my!

I usually find candied nuts too sweet for my taste, but the additional salt plus the rosemary offset the sweet of the maple syrup. With the added bonus that you can make it in 5 minutes (and they will cool almost as fast) this is the perfect snack to throw together when unexpected guests pop over. It has gourmet written all over it but it is simplicity at its best!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms

Reading food blogs is dangerous. D-A-N-G-E-R-O-U-S, I tell you, chaos making!

Just when I think I've got it all under control, dishes mapped out for this crazy time of year, no missed days, I read someone's blog post and all that great planning goes flying away like a reindeer over the rooftops.

I admit I should have known better. I should have immediately clicked the window closed when I saw the luscious picture of browned mushrooms. But I'm weak, and feeble, particularly at this time of year when it comes to mushrooms. And when I read that this recipe mimicked the sauce used for escargots (garlic, butter, parsley and lemon, oh my!) I knew I was a goner. So I bought some cremini mushrooms (thrilled to see so many tiny little caps!) and made this delicious recipe. Thank heavens, I mean, too bad my roommate wasn't around to help eat it!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Raw Chocolate Almond Bar

10 years ago, most people had never heard of a raw food diet; it was new to me when I moved to California two and half years ago. It is a fairly popular diet/lifestyle in Los Angeles and Co-opportunity food co-op carries quite a few prepared raw foods so I have begun to explore this approach to eating.

As a cashier at the co-op I was stunned and shocked to realize that much of the "raw" products that we sold were chocolate and prepared desserts. It's truly amazing what raw foodists have created using only raw ingredients (meaning nothing is heated above 114 degrees.) One of the most amazing chocolate tortes that I have ever eaten was raw.  So when I came across this recipe I decided it was time to make my own.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Presto Pasta Nights #194

Welcome to Presto Pasta Nights 2010 #194. Today, as your host, I am proud to present a magnificent spread of pasta dishes from around the world from inspiring and creative cooks. Drumroll, please!

Ahh, a Tuna and Caper Tomato Pasta, from Kevin at Closet Cooking is my kind of go-to meal. Cooking from your pantry is so satisfying and tasty when you keep it well stocked. Judging from the list of ingredients here - capers, tuna, anchovies, white wine - Kevin's is well prepared. As he says, quick and delicious meals like this make it so much easier to get back to baking! 

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Jennifer of For Such A Time As This with her Chicken Scampi. A big lover of chicken, Jennifer whips up a feast of garlic, lemon, parsley, oregano, and basil (my favorite herbs!) and tosses it lovingly with spaghetti. I love the green dish she uses to set off this herb-flecked dish - gorgeous looking and tasting!

 Tina from Life in the Slow Lane brings us Four Cheese Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Prosciutto, and folks, I gotta tell you, four cheeses plus two cured pork products and pasta sounds like heaven on a plate! Hello luvah! Gouda, Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan cheese, wrapped around cavatelli, add some butter, milk, a dash of onion powder and a dusting of parsley and my heart is yours!

Here's the first of a couple of tagliatelle dishes, Abby of Eat the Right Stuff brings us a yummy looking Tagliatelle with Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta and Pine Nuts. I love brussels sprouts but never thought of adding them to a pasta, that's genius. Of course adding pancetta nd pine nuts to anything makes any dish spectacular. This one is definitely going into my to-do file, at the top of the list for sure!

Deb from Kahakai Kitchen made Ming's Mom's Noodles with Five Spice Beef Shank. I love working a recipe based upon a great bargain - Deb got beef shanks on sale - and then worked her own magic. She "beefed" up the spice quotient by adding more ginger and decided on fresh ramen noodles. Falling off the bone meat in a soup with lots of flavor is always a winner in my book!

 Pam of Sidewalk Shoes brings us this luscious looking Mediterranean Chicken Salad that was the envy of the lunchroom (I LOVE it when that happens!) And what's not to love - tarragon vinegar, capers, kalamata olives, currants and cherry tomatoes tossed with chicken and orzo pasta. Serve it over some bibb lettuce and its healthy and gorgeous!

 Claire at Chez Cayenne has made Mafalde with Creamy Spinach Sauce. I'm always amazed to learn about new pasta shapes and Mafalde is new to me. Mafalde is similar to lasagne but thinner, and while Claire had been waiting to use it for the week she hosts Presto Pasta Night, she decided it was too good to wait. She choose a vegan ricotta and spinach sauce that really sticks to the bumps and curves of this fabulous pasta.

 Heather of Girlichef brings us her Noodle Soup with Pork, Bean Sprouts and Spinach, inspired by the movie "The Ramen Girl." Food and movies are my passion, and after hearing Heather's description of this film, I know I"ll be renting it super soon. Thanks to Heather I will bring home some ramen noodles, knowing how inspirational this movie will make me feel!

Tigerfish brings us Spicy Sausage Bell Peppers Pasta from Teczcape - An Escape to Food. Mmmm, I love spicy sausage in anything, and Tigerfish is so right - adding peppers and onions to it makes some amazing chemistry. I love the Christmas colors of this dish - quick, easy and festive, what's not to love!

Please welcome Ramya, writing at Hot From My Oven. This is her first entry in any food blog event, we're so privileged she choose Presto Pasta Nights! She made Whole Meal Spiral Pasta with Roasted Vegetable Sauce, quite a mouthful to say but looks like I would love to have many mouthfuls of this wonderful looking dish! Garlic, red peppers, tomatoes and parmesan cheese, all favorites in my pasta eating repertoire.

 Claudia of Honey From Rock brings us Sexy Pumpkin Moons with Brie and Marjoram - what an amazing and unexpected combination! Pumpkin in stuffed pasta is one of my all time favorites (and so traditionally Italian but mostly unknown to Americans). But pairing it with brie and marjoram is so brilliant! Of course with Mario Batali's Babbo Cookbook as inspiration and muse, it's hard to go wrong!

Bringing up the rear, I made some homemade Tagliatelle with Sausage, Basil and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, also inspired by Mario Batali, only my recipe came from his Molto Italiano. Double tomato sauce - tomato paste plus sundried tomatoes - coupled with a dry white wine and of course lots of garlic and spicy sausage and this pasta was slurppingly delicious! I even added some tomato paste to the pasta dough for a gorgeous color.

I hope you enjoyed the round up. Happy Holidays everyone and best wishes for 2011. Presto Pasta Nights will be taking some time off until next year but do come back and play with us again as Ruth of Once Upon A Feast - Every Kitchen Tells its Stories will be hosting PPN#195 on January 7. Send her an email to ruth (at)4everykitchen (dot)com by January 6 to participate.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yogurt Cheese Pie with Raspberry Glaze

Ahhh, dessert. For some people, it's the whole point of a meal, saving the best for last. For me, it's a rare occurrence. Sure, I love the occasional sweet indulgence but it's not what makes me salivate (that would be vinegar, olives, more vinegar, followed with creamy butter slathered on bread!) But when I have dinner parties, I know that my guests are not all sour-alholics like myself. So I make concessions.

For years, this was my go-to dessert, not only because it was easy and made with inexpensive ingredients, but I loved the shock and awe it created. "Yogurt cheese?! What's that? And why would you make it for dessert?!"

15 years ago when I first discovered this recipe courtesy of this Moosewood Cookbook, Greek yogurt was not a part of the shoppers experience; it was simply strained yogurt which made it thick, similar in consistency to cream cheese. And the fabulous Moosewood collective created this faux cheese pie. Fantastic!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tagliatelle with Sausage, Basil and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I have raved about Mario Batali on numerous occasions, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his most recent cookbook, Molto Italiano. But I am a "rogue" cook at heart, never following recipes. I finally got around to trying one of his fabulous recipes. This one was quite a treat; double tomatoey goodness with some white wine to balance it all out.

Mario (yes, we're on a first name basis) suggests homemade tagliatelle and I went for it. The funny thing is that I usually make pasta based on Marcella Hazen's recipe but after looking at Mario's I decided that I had to give it a try. His recipe calls for more eggs and he even suggested adding tomato paste, which I hadn't considered. So I gave it a try. Turns out I really loved his recipe. It was shocking to discover a new recipe after having used the same one for the past 20 years.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Come Let's Play Presto Pasta Night Again!

This Friday I'm hosting that wonderful food blog game, Presto Pasta Nights. Created by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast - Every Kitchen Tells its Stories, this is the nearly four year running weekly round-up of fabulous pasta dishes. If you haven't yet participated, get on the bandwagon, because it's loads of fun. Not only do you get to share what pasta you're cooking this week, but the folks who join in are some of the most creative cooks and writers in the food blogospere.

Wanna play with us? It's so simple. Post a dish on your blog this week and send the link and a picture to me at kirstenmlindquist (at) gmail (dot) com and send a cc to ruth (at) 4everykitchen (dot) com and then check back on this Friday, December 17 for the roundup. Please send me your info by Thursday 9pm Pacific Coast Time.

Hope to hear from you!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Maghreb Style Pomegranates

As I've mentioned before, pomegranates have fascinated me ever since I was a child due to the fruit being a key player in the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades. When I finally tasted this quasi-mythical fruit I was tickled by its sweet tart flavor but somewhat at a loss as to how to use it as an ingredient. Then I found 64 sq ft kitchen, which I have raved about in many posts, but for which I am most grateful for introducing me to this simple pomegranate recipe

Warda, author of 64 sq ft kitchen, is Algerian but describes her home cuisine as from the Maghreb, which encompasses the North African countries of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya, all bordering  the Mediterranean to the North and the Atlas Mountains to the South. With my love of Moroccan cuisine still strong, I have mined her blog for lots of inspiration!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chipotle White Bean Dip with Cilantro

The Holiday season is officially here, a time for indulgences, parties, and much eating and drinking. Everyone braces for the rich food that this time of year brings - chocolate, eggnog, cookies - not to mention all of the snacking foods like cheeses, party platters and the like. Here's a little dip that is quite out of the ordinary and just as good with veggies as with crackers.

I whipped this together the other night because I recently made homemade Chipotle in Adobo sauce  and have been trying to find a way to showcase it. Reeni of Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice presented mouth-watering honey chipotle wings a few weeks back, but the gods seemed to conspire against me making that dish. So, like an obedient mortal, I bent to their will and took another route, this white bean dip.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pan Fried Potatoes with Sage and Vinegar

Sage is an herb that I am newly converted to, which I now craft dishes around, and I blame Mario Batali. In his latest cookbook, Molto Italiano, he uses sage with abandon and fried sage is a particular favorite. He sprinkles it in sage butter tortelloni and game hens with pomegranate and orange, stuffed cabbage and Roman-style veal cutlets.

Upon first reading of the frying technique, it set off my "cheffy" bell, meaning it seemed a bit precious. But, thankfully, I have gotten better at ignoring my food prejudices because fried sage is seriously delicious, like a sage chip exploding in your mouth!

Friday, December 3, 2010

White Bean Soup with Sage and Sausage

White beans are some of my favorite legumes to cook. They're so versatile, whether making a dip or soup or salad with them. When I make soup I usually pair them with sausage or kale; they need that hearty savoryiness that those two ingredients bring.

This soup is similar to a stew that I make but with more broth. If you have a sage plant, make sure you pick the leaves when the plant is pretty dry; the oils in the leaves will be most pungent and make this soup extra delicious!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Farfalle al Limone - Bowties with Lemon and Walnuts

I have been meaning to try this recipe ever since I saw it on Aglio, Olio and Peperoncino.  And since I haven't had a chance to participate in Presto Pasta Night in a long time, so this was a great opportunity to try this dish and send it over to Ruth at Once Upon A Feast - Every Kitchen Tells Its Story for this week.

The original recipe was very lemony - too much so for me - so I added some walnuts to counter the acidity.  I'd love to hear if you add other things or stay with the original lemon recipe.

Farfalle al Limone (Bowtie Pasta with Lemon and Walnuts)

1 lb farfalle (bowtie pasta)
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup cream
1 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1/2 cup walnuts

Bring water to boil for pasta. Over low heat, melt the butter in the skillet and saute the shallots until soft. Add the zest and the juice and continue to cook over low heat. Cook pasta for 6 minutes. Add cream to juice and zest mixture, and continue to cook over low heat. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pasta pot and scrape sauce over pasta. Add parsley, cheese, walnuts and salt and pepper to taste.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Roasted Cauliflower and Sausage Spaghetti at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
Fried Rice Balls at Aglio, Olio and Peperoncino
Vegetable Wellington at Bitten