I Had No Choice But to Spoil Myself

September 11, 2010 by KatiesCooking  
Filed under Appetizers, Featured Recipes, side dish

What a whirlwind of a summer…it seriously feels like it has come and gone in the blink of an eye.  Unlike other years, my hubby and I spent this one taking one of the biggest steps in our lives.  We bought a commercial building (thanks to a special guardian angel looking out for us) and moved his business in there.  No more rent!

The coolest part about the building is the 3 units attached that we plan on leasing out to help subsidize our mortgage payment.  It gets better though.  Our broker decided the space was so awesome he wanted it for himself…to put in a coffee shop and restaurant!  woot woot!  So now when we pull those 12 hour shifts they won’t seem so bad since we can end the night with a cocktail just five steps away.  : D  Apparently he plans on having about 5 different variations of eggs benedict on his brunch menu, my favorite!

Though this is one of the most amazing things to happen to us, the building that is, not the eggs benedict, it’s come at a price.  I’ve had more frozen pizza over the last month than I care to divulge.  The long days, exhausting build-out and move of the business means we spent an average of about an hour a day at our actual home which is where my kitchen is.

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post!  I promise that once we get completely settled into our new nest, I will be able to escape to my culinary world more often.  Today I couldn’t bear eating another frozen pizza or eggo waffle, so instead I spoiled myself.  Here’s my decadent lunch menu: Roasted Garlic Aioli with Caramelized Artichoke Hearts and Prosciutto Ribbons.  Not in the picture is some baguette and mixed olives.

There’s no real recipe to go along here but if you must know how I made the roasted garlic aioli, here goes.  The easiest way is to buy some already-roasted garlic cloves from the deli (where the olives are).  Toss about a dozen cloves in a food processor with about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, a teaspoon of dijon, a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, pinch of salt and pepper and pulse til somewhat smooth.  I’m sure it would be even better with a little fresh thyme but I didn’t have any on hand.  I sauteed the artichoke hearts in butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.  That’s it!

Fig & Olive Tapenade

July 30, 2010 by KatiesCooking  
Filed under Appetizers, Featured Recipes, Vegetarian

I have a weakness for bite-sized nibbles.  Everything is so much cuter when it’s pint-sized or wrapped up in a neat little package.  The thought of a obese cheeseburger makes me cringe.  But, if that cheeseburger was divided into 20 petite sliders, I could eat my weight in them.  Just a simple triscuit cracker transforms with an elegant topping which is where my fig & olive tapenade recipe comes into play.

Remember when I said I used to be a picky eater? Well, olives used to be one of the foods I despised.  So in order to slowly introduce them into my diet (baby steps remember) I would mix them with something a little sweeter to dull their briny flavor.  Awhile back I stumbled across a recipe for this tapenade (which may have been this David Lebowitz recipe) soon lost it and was forced to wing it.  Every time I make it, I’ll just dump all the ingredients into the food processor, or at least all the ones I can remember, and pulse it together.

Even though I absolutely love olives now, I still prefer this tapenade with luscious figs.  It’s more of a compote really.  In order to balance out the sweetness of the tapenade, I love to pair it with a thin ribbon of proscuitto and a dallop of goat cheese.  Those components tie it all together in a nice little package.  Just like I like.

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Curried Coconut Mussels

July 12, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Appetizers, Featured Recipes, Seafood

It’s not very often that I get the pleasure of cooking for my loved ones.  Jason and I live such hectic, full-to-the-brim, jam-packed lives that it’s hard to find time to treat my family and friends to a home-cooked meal.  So when I found out my mom was going to be in town dog-sitting for my brother last week, I jumped at the opportunity to spoil her!  She’s been so supportive of my culinary passion and I think it’s safe to say it has rubbed off on her a little too.  I wanted to make something I knew she wouldn’t normally make herself, in hopes of exciting her taste buds a bit. We just ate these curried mussels out of the bowl with a chunk of bread to soak up the broth.  This would be equally delicious over a bed of rice.  Or if you’re not a fan of mussels, try it with shrimp!

coconut curry mussels

I love cooking shellfish like mussels and clams because you can do it all in one pot (easy clean-up!) and it will all come together in just 10-15 minutes.  In Seattle, we’re blessed to have incredibly fresh, meaty mussels from Penn Cove which is just a short drive from where I live.  If you’ve never cooked mussels before, don’t worry!  Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Buy them fresh the day you plan to eat them, if possible.  Keep them cool on ice until you’re ready to cook.
  • Rinse and scrub them lightly to get rid of any barnacles or loose shell fragments.
  • Pull off the “beard” (the fibers that attach a mussel to a rock).
  • If any mussels don’t open during cooking, don’t eat them.

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Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes

When I found out that Oprah was holding an open casting call/audition for her new “Own” television station, I couldn’t wait to apply!  I’ve spent the majority of my life dreaming and telling everyone my grandeur ideas.  But, I have a bad habit of not following through with those aspirations.  This year, I decided to turn over a new leaf and take action.  No more wasting time dreaming about what could be.  Instead, I want to take the steps to make those dreams a reality.

In order to portray who I am while showing my culinary point of view, I had to come up with a recipe that would essentially be “Katie on a plate” (in less than 3 minutes!)  With my food, I really value using seasonal, local ingredients in recipes that are packed with flavor yet still healthy (without being diet food).  For my featured recipe, I wanted to come up with something that utilized seasonal vegetables with other ingredients you can find at any grocery store.

I love these tomatoes because you can mix up the stuffing and use tons of different ingredients to switch up the flavors.  They work great paired with a salad for a light summer dinner, or you can make a big batch as a side dish for a large crowd.

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Zucchini Couscous Cakes

June 21, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Appetizers, Salad & Veggies, Seasonal, Vegetarian

Technically speaking, spring officially started a few weeks ago. It didn’t really feel like it was here though until this last weekend filled with sunshine and blue skies. Even though Jason and I were stuck working, it seemed like everyone else was really enjoying the change in weather. We’ve spent the last few years supplying everyone else with their toys and our busiest days in the shop are often those 75 degree days where everyone wants to rent paddleboards, buy a trainer kite, or demo a longboard. It seems like the only time we get a breather is on those gray, drizzly days when the rest of the world is smart enough to stay home. Luckily for me, i’m more than happy holing up in my kitchen on those rainy days and braising a big chunk of meat til it falls of the bone.

But I digress. My whole point was that yes, spring is finally here. To me, that means making the transition to light, healthy cooking with all the fresh seasonal produce cropping up. These couscous cakes epitomize spring freshness. This recipe is a variation on the couscous cakes in Fine Cooking Mazagine issue No. 37. You can fill them with any type of veggie you love. I made these with whole wheat couscous so they were extra healthy (it’s actually all I had in my pantry to be honest) and filled them with zucchini, garbanzo beans and almonds. A simple salad played a supporting role while a roasted red pepper sauce brought the cakes to life.

The best part about these couscous cakes is that they’re not only a showstopper but you can fry them up and keep them warm in a warm oven while you put together the rest of your dinner.

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Home-Made Guacamole Recipe

June 17, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Appetizers, Featured Recipes, Vegetarian

I can’t believe tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo! If I was actually on top of things enough to know what day of the week it is (hard to keep track of when you don’t get a traditional weekend), I would have thrown something together a few close friends. I can’t think of a better holiday. Afterall, there isn’t a single person I know who doesn’t love Mexican food. Tequila on the other hand seems to be a little hit-or-miss, especially if you’re one of the many people who had one of “those” nights where you can’t even smell Tequila without gagging.

Cinco de Mayo is often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day which is actually September 16th. In reality, Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French in 1862’s Battle of Puebla. Arguably, the fifth of May seems to have taken on greater meaning in the US than it has south of the border. Regardless though, it’s a day of national pride for hispanics, and a day where the rest of us show our respect and appreciation for their culture.

Jason and I are lucky enough to spend a good chunk of our time in Mexico in a little fishing village called La Ventana. We fell so hardcore in love with the area, we laid down our savings and purchased a little chunk of land. And after three years of sweat, landscaping, cinder block lifting, and more than a few pokes from all the cacti, we even have a casita we can call home. If I had it my way, we’d spend the entire winter down there. Everyone in the town is so friendly and welcoming. The more you give to them, the more you get in return. And I don’t mean material things. I mean getting to know the locals, smiling, waving as you pass by, respecting their culture and so on.

Where we are, the guacamole is often just a bowl of watered down green liquid that resembles avocado only in color. Great for drizzling over fish tacos but not something you can really mound on top of a tortilla chip. This is basically my mom’s recipe that’s been passed down to me. It doesn’t get any better than this. So even if you can’t make it out to your neighborhood taqueria, do me a favor and make this guacamole recipe. You can thank me later!

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BBQ Oysters with Garlic-Sherry Butter Sauce

June 17, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Appetizers, Seafood

If actions speak louder than words, and a picture is worth a thousand words…well then I must be a chatterbox! Truth is, I’ve never been that good with words. There are so many people out there who I admire that have the most amazing voice and tone with their writing. Me, on the other hand, not so much. In fact, when it comes to any sort of confrontation, I shrink into a blubbering idiot. I’m much more comfortable letting my actions do the talking for me. And that means letting my food speak for itself.

This is another dish that really defies words. Mostly because you’ll be too busy cramming these into your mouth to bother with speaking. Why waste precious time talking (or in my case typing) when you could be slurping the sweet garlic-butter out of the oyster shells?

My rockstar sister-in-law Megan is the mastermind behind this recipe. She’s always entertaining at her house and this is the go-to appetizer that wows her guests every time. So you can rest assured that if you make this at the next BBQ you go to this spring you’ll be a rockstar too.

Oh and if you thought you didn’t like oysters before, I guarantee this will change your mind. Heck, I’d eat rocky mountain oysters if they were smothered in garlic-sherry butter and cheese.

Here’s some tips for the Oyster Newbie
-Try to buy them the day you’ll be eating them
-Store them on ice in your fridge
-smaller oysters are more tender
-if the oyster is already open before you start, discard it b/c it’s probably either dead or may carry unhealthy bacteria
-rinse the sealed oysters under cold water and scrub them to remove dirt
-they’re excellent with a bubbly glass of champagne!

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