Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cilantro Spiced Chick Peas

Yesterday I posted a hot, heavy side dish, Parmesan Yamcakes. While delicious, and of course nutricious, not really super summery. So as we get ready to dive into August, and temperatures are still sky high, sometimes all I want is a fresh salad for dinner with some delicious toppings. A rotisserie chicken, for example, is a staple at my house for busy weeknights. Throw it on a salad, eat it with your hands off the bone, or make a chicken salad.

Another staple in my house is an assortment of salad fixings. English cucumber (always), green onion, purple or green cabbage, marinaded mushrooms, olives and artichokes, and of course cans of beans. I got fancy this week and made some spruced up chick peas for my salad. They're so good on a summer salad.

Cilantro Spiced Chick Peas
makes 1 bowl for snacking or topping

1 can chick peas (drained)
4 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoky paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup cilantro (rough chop)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

In a medium to large saute pan, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients, but keep the cilantro until the end-- don't add the cilantro yet. 

Cook the chick peas, tossing and moving around every so often for 15 minutes. Some of the chick peas will crack open, and that's ok. At the very end, taste and add salt if necessary. Turn off heat and add fresh cilantro.

Serve these little babies as a snack, or my favorite, on top of a fresh green salad. If you make a yummy vinaigrette, the spices from the chick peas mix with the vinaigrette and create great, bright flavors on a summer salad. 

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Parmesan Yamcakes

Does someone want to volunteer to come film me when I cook, and then make mini cooking videos for social media? I wish. I love watching those videos. They're on every newsfeed I have, all the time. I'm really not mad about it. Food Network is probably pissed because it's an easier way for people to watch but not commit to a whole show. Seems like they're jumping on the bandwagon. They suckered me in with this Giada video for Parmesan Potato Pancakes on Facebook or something. 

It's totally a winter recipe, but it didn't stop me. It's been about 100 degrees + 100% humidity in Chicago the past week. Last week I came home with ground beef to make burgers with (my husband was not happy to be at the grill in 100 degrees) and a sweet potato. Who cares. I made a tomato salad to balance the summer out. 

A quick diversion. Sweet Potatoes or Yams? I'm a huge yam fan. I find most sweet potatoes to be, well, too sweet. 

Parmesan Yamcakes
makes 4-6 pancakes

1 medium-large sweet potato or yam
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 eggs (whisked)
1 shallot (minced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 dash red pepper flakes
olive oil
salt and pepper

Prep your sweet potato or yam. Start by peeling it with a potato peeler. Next, grate it either on a box grater or with a grating attachment on your food processor.  If you're using a food processor, make sure to cut the potato up into quarters or eighths. Transfer the grated potato to a large mixing bowl. 

In a large saute pan, heat a tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, salt, pepper and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes, and cook until transluscent, about 4 minutes. 

To the potatoes, add Parmesan, breadcrumps, whisked eggs, 1 tbsp olive oil, shallot and garlic mixture (including oil from the pan), salt and pepper. With your hands, mix it all together until it forms a cohesive ball. It should be moist and stick together. If it's too dry, add more oil. If it's too loose, add more breadcrumbs. 

Form into 3-4 inch patties, about 1/2 inch thick. You'll have 4-6 patties depending on the size of your potato and the size of your patties. 

Heat the same large large saute pan over medium heat and add a couple tbsp of olive oil. Drop in the patties and let the first side cook for 12-15 minutes. Test after 12 minutes to see if there is a nice brown crust and they easily come up from the bottom of the pan. Flip and cook for another 12-15 minutes. 

Remove from heat and serve with more freshly grated parmesan.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How to Make Pasta this Summer

Even though it's summer and we're all supposed to be eating like birds so we look good in dresses and bathing suits... pasta. Just pasta. It's so good once in a while. 

I am so happy to have the Green City Market at my finger tips again. Being in San Francisco you'd have thought the markets would have stolen my heart. Not so. The weekend martkets in the city (near where I lived) were so crowded it made me hate it. Now, GCM is insanely crowded as well, but I still love it. The mushroom guys. Grilling cheese. Bennison's croissants. And so much fresh produce this time of year.

That's what takes me to the fresh summer bolognese. I got a beautiful pint of cherry tomatoes that I wanted to keep relatively fresh, but not put on a salad. This "fresh" version of Pasta Bolognese is an idea I spotted on Saveur last week. I've modified a bit based on what I had on hand, but I just loved the idea. Cheers to many more summer pastas!

Fresh Summer Bolognese
makes 4-6 servings

1 lb. lean ground beef (80/20 or 85/15)
2 shallots (minced)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cpu dry white wine
2 tbsp capers
1 lemon (juice)
1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved, all colors)
1/2 lb. casarecce (or your favorite noodle)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
fresh basil or parsley
salt and pepper
olive oil

Get the pasta water heating, and add a ton of salt to the water once boiling. Add pasta and cook according to package. When cooked, reserve 1 cup of the water before draining. 

Start with the ground beef to get it browned up as the pasta water is coming up to a boil. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, shallots, garlic, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Cook until beef has browned, about 7 minutes. 

Now add in tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes. Add white wine and capers, and let wine cook until almost completely cooked down, about 5 minutes. 

Finally, add in the lemon juice and halved tomatoes, with some more salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes cook for 4-5 minutes. 

Add the pasta directly to the sauce, and add about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. If you'd like the sauce thinner, add water until it suits your taste. Add the grated Parmesan to the top and toss everything together. If you have some fresh herbs this time of year, add them as well!

We enjoyed this delicious pasta on our patio, with a glass of crisp white wine. 

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Refresh: Grilled Garlic Shrimp & Cilantro Chimichurri

Okay, we're finally settled into our new house. The travel has ceased, and just in time for the rest of summer. We can finally enjoy our new house, patio and grill included. We feel so spoiled with the "luxuries" of our Chicago apartment. A dish washer. A garbage disposal. Washer & dryer... in our unit! And our adorable patio overlooking the Chicago river. Needless to say, we're pumped for the life upgrade.

So, one of my all time favorite summertime recipes is this Cilantro Chimichurri recipe that I posted first back in 2014. I think it pairs so well with shrimp, and I made a yummy Cumin Shrimp recipe a while back. I'm back with a similar recipe and it's so easy. If you have a grill or grill pan, go ahead and make this sometime this summer. 

Oh, and that's a side of my favorite salad recipe ever

Grilled Garlic Shrimp with Cilantro Chimichurri 
makes 3-4 servings

1 lb. peeled & deveined shrimp
1/2 lemon (juiced)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 cloves garlic (rough chop)
1 handful cilantro leaves (chopped)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 tbsp olive oil
Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce

Rinse and pat dry shrimp. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients aside from the chimichurri, salt and pepper. Leave that for later. Cover bowl and pop into fridge. Marinade for 30 - 60 minutes. 

Remove from fridge about 20 minutes prior to cooking. Pop the shrimp onto metel skewers nice and tightly. If using wooden skewers, make sure to soak ahead of time. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the shrimp.

Crank up the grill to medium to medium-high heat. Pop the shrimp on the grill, and let sit on 1 side for 3 minutes. Turn over and let the other side cook for 2 minutes. Remove from grill.

Serve the shrimp with loads of that fresh cilantro sauce and a fresh salad. It's summer, so use that sauce on everything!

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