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.
You’re probably getting tired of all the seafood dishes I post on my blog! Truth is, the seafood that’s available during the summer-time in Seattle is incredible. I get enough beef and chicken the rest of the year that I try to make the most of all the fresh salmon, shrimp, and scallops while they last. We’ve been stuck in a bit of a heat wave over the last two weeks here in the Northwest. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to the sticky, suffocating temperatures wafting over the east coast, but when you’re used to a mild, soggy July, it can be a bit overwhelming.
All I wanted tonight was a light salad bursting with bright, fresh flavors. I craved a dinner I could scarf down and still have the energy to do jumping jacks afterwards. So here’s what I came up with. Quinoa is an airy grain that cooks up quickly like couscous, but with just the slightest bit of crunch. I like it a bit better though because it has more texture and tends to soak up the flavors of whatever you mix it with. You’ll want to cook up extra so you can enjoy it for lunch the next day too!
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.
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.
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!
Yesterday I stepped out of my comfort zone. Sundays cause a sort of unexplainable gravitational pull towards my oven. It’s like someone declared Sunday to be baking day and I’m not complaining. To be completely honest though, baking has always terrified me. Just the idea that everything has to be so exact and measured out sends me into a state of panic. What if I overmix the dough? How do I know when it’s overmixed? How much do I need to knead the dough? The questions go on and on. I’m much more comfortable sticking to the stove top.
But once in a blue moon, I just HAVE to bake something. Maybe it was the drizzly Seattle Sunday afternoon that made me want to hunker down and be all domesticated. I saw a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe for strawberry scones with rosemary in the dough and it was right up my alley. I can’t believe how easily it all came together too. I took these photos so you could see each step of the process. Since I don’t bake often, I had to improvise on a few things. For instance, I found out yesterday that i don’t own a rolling pin. Oh well, I just floured up an empty wine bottle and used that instead.
This dish is the epitome of a simple Sunday supper. The recipe comes from my favorite little old lady, Miss Jackie’s family. She’s this adorable elderly woman that I cater for every once in awhile, and she insisted that I make this recipe when I was catering a brunch for her friends and family. Earlier this week, I invited our friend Joaquin over for dinner and he looked a little perplexed when I pulled the ramekins out of the oven. His face said “hmm, I thought you invited me over for dinner, not breakfast!” : ) But after one bite, he was in loooove.
Technically, they aren’t really souffles which are a little more complicated to make. But the results are almost identical which is why I still call them by that name. The baking powder makes them nice and fluffy while the cottage cheese adds an unbelievable richness. The best part though, is you can take this base recipe and add in whatever ingredients you like. Wild mushrooms, spinach, roasted peppers, ham, etc. all work great. Basically you can add in anything you like in an omelette. The sky is the limit!
I love serving these souffles with a salad for a light dinner. The other night I had some roasted asparagus on the side (since they’re in season right now) and some italian turkey sausages.
**If you’re serving a big crowd, just double the recipe and pour it into a 9×13 casserole dish and serve it family style. Add a few minutes onto the cooking time. Read more
Here’s the recipe for the parmesan polenta I cooked up to go with my Balsamic Glazed Roast Chicken. Polenta couldn’t be easier to make which is why I love it so much. It even gives couscous a run for its money when it comes to simplifying a week-night dinner. Polenta happens to go especially well with tender braised beef too. I’m practically drooling just thinking about it. But on this particular night, I made it to pair with some roasted chicken and broccoli and it soaked up the juices perfectly.