Parsley Pasta Salad With Chickpeas

If you like real tabbouleh, I think you will love this. The parsley is the star. This was just going to be Saturday lunch and a way to use up a half bag of the TJ’s grilled veg, so of course I have no knolled ingredients or process photos to include. But, this was yummy enough to warrant a share – so forgive me.

This is hearty, and fresh, and makes for a filling lunch. You could add some tuna to boost it up, if you wanted. Or just serve it as a side to some rotissimat chicken you picked up on the way home.
If you are lucky enough to be able to eat cheese, some chunks of feta in this would push it into the orgiastically good zone.

Try this – I am totally loving it, and I think you will, too.

Parsley Pasta Salad With Chickpeas in Garlic Dijon Vinaigrette
Salad Ingredients
½ pound rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and peeled
1 small bunch ruffled parsley, chopped coarsely. (About 2.5-3c.)
12 ish pitted kalamata olives, sliced laterally in half
1/2 small white onion, diced
1.5-2c chopped grilled vegetables (I used ½ bag of the Trader Joe’s misto alla griglia – it is red bells, eggplant and zucchini.)
Garlic Dijon Vinaigrette
3 fat cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
A ton of freshly ground black pepper.

Directions:
Ok, while the water is boiling for your pasta, make the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together everything but the oil, then drizzle and whisk it in last until you have a nice emulsion. Pour half of the dressing into a medium-sized microwave safe bowl. This dressing is really intense, do not panic. Once is mixed with everything it will mellow out.
Peel the chickpeas, put them in the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. Microwave for one minute, stir and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, chop your vegetable and layer them on top of the dressing in the bowl (but do not mix!) and put that in the fridge to wait for the last step.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it and then immediately put the hot pasta in the bowl with the chick peas and give it a stir.
Once the pea/pasta mixture has cooled to room temperature, toss it with the rest of the ingredients and it is ready to eat. Or, stick it back in the fridge. Because you coated the beans and pasta with that super-strong dressing while they were hot, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow to enjoy this. It is ready right now.

This makes 4 meal-sized portions, or 8-10 sides.

Nutritional Info
for the meal size, verywell.com says each serving has:

927 cal
38.7g fat
123.8g carbs (fiber 21.9g, sugar 12.5g)
29g protein
Plus – 110% Vitamin A, 93% vitamin C and 56% Iron.

Crostata di Marmellata di Fichi

It all started with a jar of jam. A beautiful, urn-like, Costco-sized jug really, filled with sparkling fig jam. Fig is my favorite, next to apricot, and the best brand is Tuna’s (which Caravan stopped carrying!) I was so sad until that moment in Costco. That is, until I got home.
Because, you see, this gorgeous golden Greek jug of hope held a horrible, horrible secret that only revealed itself when you took your first bite. Vanilla. They put FUCKING VANILLA in the jam. It tasted like my father’s pipe tobacco smelled. So, great. Now I had a Costco-sized jug of inedible fig jam taking up precious refrigerator space. And it stayed there for several months while I decided what to do. Then it occurred to me: crostata di mamellata!! Of course. Found a nice nonna recipe on The YouTube. It used oil and eggs in the crust – intriguing! I tried it and took it in to the office. It was lovely, and consumed with glee.

But overall the feedback was that it was too sweet – I’d made the layer of jam too thick. Everyone loved the vanilla now that it was in a tarte. I thought the crust needed a pinch of salt, and would taste better with butter than oil. General consensus was that it tasted like a giant fig newton. I’m cool with that. And realized essentially this is like those stained glass cookies you make for the winter holidays.

Fast forward to Saturday morning, time to try those adaptations. This time the dough mixed in the food processor, and I used melted butter instead of the oil. I thought this was a good idea. Oh, lawdee lawdee lawd. Do not ever do this. Ever. For reals. Learn from my pain. What an awful, greasy glob it made. I hoped by putting it back in the fridge for an hour, it would become useable. It was. Whew, dodged that bullet.

For the sweetness, the second batch which (THANK GAWD) finally ends that damn jar of fig jam, I stirred in the juice of one lemon. That did the trick, and balanced out the sweetness nicely. If I could do dairy, a dollop of mascarpone or plain Greek yogurt would be absolute heaven on this puppy.

The next time I make this, I will use either apricot or bosenberry jam. And I shall feast, betches!

Let’s make this – and I hope you check out the nonna video – I love the Italian technique, whether it is pasta for noodles or for pastry you beat that egg then slowly add in the flour. With your damn hand, dammit. Because centuries of practice going back to the Roman Empire cannot be wrong.

Crostata di marmellata
2 eggs, beaten
½ c. butter, cool-ish
½ c. sugar
1 tsp bkp pwd
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp. salt
2 c. AP Flour
sparkle sugar
Filling: a jar of jam (about 1.5-2c)

Set aside 2Tbsp. of the egg. Preheat your oven to 350*. In the bowl of your food processor, put the dry ingredients and briefly pulse to combine them. Add the butter, pulse til it looks like fine crumbs. Add the liquid, and pulse again to combine.
You will wind up with a crumbly mass. Turn it out on your floured board and gently knead a few times. Cut off 1/3 and set it aside. Roll out the larger piece to fit the bottom and sides of your pan(s). Fit it in the pan and trim the edges. Roll out the remaining dough to the same thickness (about 1/4″) in a big rectangle-ish shape and using a swirly-edged pasta cutter, slice it in to ½” wide strips. place these in the lattice style of your choice on top of the jam, and pinch them in to the dough at the edge. You’ll have many strips left. When that is done, smoosh down the dough at the sides of the pan with your finger, it should be about ¼” higher than the jam. Take the remaining strips and place them around the circumference. Gently brush all the dough with the reserved beaten egg, and sprinkle with the sparkle (or normal, or turbinado) sugar.
Bake 350* for 40m. Cool completely before slicing. Then have with your afternoon caffe with the neighbors.

Pecan Brown Sugar Scones

This is the second attempt at these babies. I’ve been trying to capture Himself’s favorite dessert, pecan pie. Although these are not quite there, they are quite tasty. Hopefully a future post is coming that can be called the pecan pie version. Not today, though. If I make one more batch of these this weekend, I am afraid Himself will have my head.

This version is just sweet enough, with a nice crunch from the nuts, and a little hint of salt in the special icing.

These are a little more fussy than my usual, but don’t be scared off. It’s not hard, there’s just a couple extra bits. But hey! That’s what makes these so special. And pretty enough to get rid of the leftovers to the neighbors!
Shall we?

Pecan Brown Sugar Scones.
yield: 16 mini or 8 large

Scones:
2 c. AP flour
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
¼ c. toasted chopped pecans
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ c. ice cold butter
¾ c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg separated, with the whites lightly whisked until foamy.
8-16 pretty pecan halves.

Icing:
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbps. water
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar.

Preheat the oven to 375*.

For the Dry, in a medium-sized bowl mix together:
2 c. AP flour
¼ c. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Mix, then cut in with a pastry cutter:
½ c. ice cold butter
Set aside, and a small bowl mix the wet:
¾ c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk.

Mix the wet in to the dry genty until it is shaggy-looking. Turn on to your board/counter, and gently flold and knead until the tough barely holds tegether. With your board knife, cut the dough in to four equal parts, and gently shape and flatten each in to a disc about 6” across and ½” high. On two of the discs, sprinkle:
¼ c. dark brown sugar
¼ toasted chopped pecans.
With your board knife, gently lift one of the plain discs and set it on top of the nuts/sugared disc. (Do the same for the other) Gently press down, they will kind of stick together. Smooth the outside edge so there’s no brown sugar poking out. (Otherwise, the top half will just slide off the bottom half during baking.) Use your board knife to slice each disc in to 8 wedges. (I do halves, quarters, then eighths). Place about ½” apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss the pecan halves in the foamy egg whites. Brush the backs and tops of the wedges with the beaten egg white, and place a pecan half on each. (Why not the sides? I don’t know the chemistry of it, but essentially it’ll seal the sides so there’s no where for the scone to rise and expand in the oven.) Sprinkle the moist tops with a little more brown sugar. Bake about 15 – 18 minutes until deep golden. Remove from the oven. and place the scones on a cooling rack. When they are just barely still warm, drizzle with the salted brown sugar icing. (And ermehgerd, this icing! I wanted to just eat it with a spoon. This would be amazeballs on a coffee cake. Soooo yummy.)
The Icing:
In a microwave-safe bowl (or 4 cup pyrex!), put:
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbps. water
Microwave until it is bubbling. (Mine took about 30 seconds). Stir in:
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar.
Stir. It should be the consistency of a thick icing. Put it in a pastry tube to drizzle over the almost-cool scones. Serve and eat!


Remember to take some to the neighbors!

For the 16-scone version, the nutritional info per scone calculated using the verywell.com site is:
Calories 256
Fat 18.8g
Sodium 132mg
Carbs 19.6g (fiber 2.3g, sugars 5.7g)
Protein 4.3

Jalapeno Cilantro Slaw with Lime


My new favorite coleslaw is easy, fast, zesty and bright. And easy. Wait, I said that. Oh! And no mayo! This is zippy the day you make it, the next day it will have more juice from the cabbage and it will be hotter because the jalapeno has been infusing everything.

We love this with grilled chicken, or pork. As a side with tacos, and actually ON fish tacos. It is super yummy.
You ready? Let’s do this!

Whisk together:
3 Tbsp. mild oil
¼ c. agave sweetener (or 2 Tbsp sugar)
¼ c. freshy squeezed lime juice.
Pour over:
3 c. napa or green cabbage, chopped for slaw
¼ c. chopped cilantro
¼ c. white onion in wafter thin crescents
½ to 1 small fresh jalapeno, in wafer thin rings or crescents.
Toss. Eat. Add S&P to taste.

Nutritional info for four servings (according to verywell.com recipe analyzer).
Cal 164
Fat 10.3g
Carb: 19.1g (sugars 17.2g)
Protein: 1g
Vitamin A 79%, Vitamin C 49% of daily allowance.

Lemony Carrot Salad with Fig & Pistachio


SUMMER! The rains are finally here. It took a long time this year, so long we began to wonder if they would ever get here. But now it is officially summer. Hot, sticky days beg for cold, crunchy salads.

You know how much I love me some carrot salad. It’s a summer staple in our house. I made this one for my mom’s birthday lunch, and loved it so much I’ve made it again and again.
This is an easy-peasy salad, almost like that carrot raisin salad from childhood, but with a grown-up (and mayonnaise-free!) twist.

1# fresh carrots, peeled and grated (about 3 to 4 c.)
¼ c. dried figs, sliced in thin rounds
¼ c. toasted pistachio meats, coarsely chopped
Zest of ½ lemon (1 tsp.)
Juice of ½ lemon (2 Tbps.)
1 Tbsp. agave sweetener (or sugar, or honey)
1 Tbsp. mild vegetable oil

Use a food processor to grate the carrots. Or use children – free labor, quick healers, and all that.

In a medium-sized salad bowl, whisk together the lemon, agave, oil. Dump in the rest, stir and serve. Or, you can stick it in the fridge and eat it later. It is good both ways: crisper with less sauce the first day, crunchy and juicier the next.
This is fantasic for picnics and barbecues (no mayo!), or with a sammie at lunch.
Going with four servings, the calorie calculator at verywell.com says each serving has:
Calories 163
Fat 7.3g
Carbs 23.9g
Fiber 5g
Sugars 14.8g
Protein 3.1g
and…..632% of your Vitamin A for the day!

Green Chili Corn Cakes

Creen Chili Corn Cakes

These are so tender, savory, spicy and sweet, with just a little tooth from the corn kernals. I highly recommend making these immediately for dinner or breakfast. We spread ours with butter and a little drizzle of agave syrup. Total yum. Himself considers them very tasty.

I made these a couple weeks back after I saw a Food52 Instagram post for these masa cakes with cheese and cilantro crema. They looked so very tasty; well, except for the cheese and crema parts in our lactose-impaired household. Modified a bit for our tastes, boy are these amazing. The recipe is brilliant with the addition of some corn starch to the flour – it makes these so very tender.

As always, this recipe needs Hatch green chili. Do not use the mushy tasteless canned things. If you don’t have Hatch, mince up fine a fat jalapeno without the ribs and seeds, but use about 30% less of that than the green chili. And, if you are lucky enough to be able to eat cheese, a sprinkle of cotija on this would be amazeballs.
I keep wanting to see how these would be as a bun for an eggie sammich on a weekday morning, but there are never any left by Monday morning….life’s tough, I know.

Alrighty then, let’s make these mofos:

Green Chili Corn Cakes
Time: 30 m
Yield: about a dozen 3” cakes
Heat your griddle to medium.

Dry – in a big bowl, stir together:
1 c. corn flour (masa harina like MaSeca, NOT corn meal)
3 Tbsp. corn starch
½ c. AP flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Wet – in a second bowl, whisk:
2 eggs
1 ½ c. buttermilk
2 Tbsp. oil (mild like Canola or light olive)
4 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 c. grated onion.
½ c. thawed frozen corn kernals
½ c. chopped Hatch green chili

Mix the dry with the wet until combined. You don’t have to be super gentle like with wheat flour, the masa doesn’t have gluten to toughen things up. (Don’t go nuts – there is a little AP in there.) Cook the way you do pancakes. Then happily consume them.

Bon apétit!

The VeryWell.com recipe nutrition calculator says each cake has:
cal: 135
fat: 3.9g
sodium: 366mg
carb: 21.9g (fiber: 1.3g, sugar: 6.2g)
protein: 3.7
and! 75% of your Vitamin C for the day (who knew? must be the chilis?)

Cherry Tomaisins


Not to go all foodie on you, but an oven dried tomato is an amazing sweet tart chewy bit of umami magic. Happily this is the time of year when Sprouts has these little cartons for less than a dollar. I needed half of one to roast with some fish, but of course bought two because LESS THAN A DOLLAR, you guys.(What’s the green, you ask? Himself made a chickpea spread and it is yum!)

Those little pints stared at me everyday from the kitchen counter. Then this morning I realized – I can roast them! I started to think about a quinoa salad with roasted veg and a garlicky balsamic, and thought how yummy these would be. Or maybe in a wrap. Or tossed with some green beans. Or as a layer in a bacon sammich. Or…..anyway, these freeze like a dream – if you have any left to freeze. Seriously, you will eat them like candy when they come out of the oven.

This is a Sunday at home for a couple hours recipe. It requires almost zero effort, and hardly any oven heat – but it takes two or so hours for that chewy sweet goodness.

Cherry Tomaisins
2 pints cherry roma tomatoes
2 Tb XVOO
½ tsp. pimentón ahumado dulce
garlic salt & pepper
Heat your oven to 225*. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Wash and laterally slice in half the tomatoes. (From stem to tip, in other words.) Toss them on the lined tray. sprinkle with the olive oil and seasonings. Toss in the oven. After an hour, gently stir them every half hour until they are done – about 2 hours, depending on how juice they were to start with. This batch was 2 hours and 17 minutes.

Mmmmmm
PS – If you want the link for that spread, it’s here at BlenderGirl.

Marzipan

I have to blame my mother for this. She has been on a quest to make home made bear claws, and dropping off samples. And that almond filling made me think about marzipan, and whether it could be made at home. The interwebs said yes. That I needed almond flour, and hey! I still had ¼ bag of that almond flour I bought to make macarons with G.
Things can spiral out of control so very quickly…..

So, found this recipe at The Daring Gourmet. Had most of the ingredients on hand, although I did a few mods: I prefer Dr. Oetker’s bitter almond to just extract, and merinque powder just for the safety of no raw egg whites. It is simple, and amazing. Don’t think I will ever buy marzipan again.

Marzipan
1 ½ c. almond flour
1 ½ c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. orange flower water
1 vial bitter almond (or 2 tsp. almond extract)
2 tsp. meringue powder
3 tsp. water
Stir together the meringue powder and water. Set aside. In your food processor, put all the rest of the dry ingredients and pulse to combine. Pour in the liquids, and pulse until it forms a loose crumbly ball. I had to add another teaspoon of water to mine, but I think that’s because I’m in the desert and everything is very dry.
Remove from the food processor and knead the marzipan a few times. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and toss in the fridge.
Besides just eating this as is, we made some little logs and dipped them in dark chocolate. Oh, yes. So very very tasty!
If you have the ingredients on hand, make this!!!

Cake for Breakfast, Bitches

Mmmmmm. Cake. I LOVE cake. Nothing in this world tops a plain yellow cake. Except maybe a yellow cake with my Meme’s fluffy frosting. (Snort. Nothing tops a cake…. ok ok.) Don’t get me wrong, chocolate cake is delicious. But yellow cake is sublime.

So, what if I told you that you could have cake for breakfast and that it would be slightly healthier than pancakes? As in, it has less sugar (unless you’re some kind of weirdo who eats pancakes without syrup.) Silliness aside, the ingredients for pancakes or this yellow cake are practically interchangeable. Add some low-sugar jam, and we’re done.

We picked this jam up at Costco, and it’s quite tasty. It is not very sweet, though – so if you like a really sweet jam, this is not for you. But for a cake filling, it is spot on.

Shall we?

Cake:
2 c. AP flour
1 ¼ c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350*. Get out two 8” or three 6” round pans.
Alrighty, y’all know I love me the creaming method of cake creation – so here it is:
In the Kitchenaide, with the paddle attachment, put all the dry ingredients. Give a couple spins to combine, then toss in the stick of butter (Cold from the fridge is fine). Run on medium for a couple of minutes, until the mixture looks like a bowl full of fine crumbs.
While that’s going, line the bottom of the cake pans with parchment, then grease and flour the pans. No, this is not overkill. You could parchment the sides, as well, if you want a super-smooth side. I didn’t – I’m lazy.
Back at the mixer, when the mix looks like crumbs, pour in the three liquid ingredients, bring up to medium high then high for about three minutes – until the mixture looks fluffy and is a lighter color than when you started.
Evenly divide between the pans. Give each a good whack, and bake for 30-35 minutes (start testing at 25 for the six inchers.) And, I weigh mine when it’s by three because otherwise I have vastly different sized layers. Eyeball it at your own risk.

When they test clean with a toothpick, cool on a rack for ten minutes (they’ll still be warm), then remove the cake from the pan. Cool completely. Layer with your compote or jam, sprinkle with powdered sugar and you are good to go.
Bon apétit

What about Meme’s frosting? I will try and fit that in to a post here soon. The interwebs knows about it, especially because the Pioneer Woman extolled its wonder a while back – check it out if you can’t wait!

Cranberry Crumb Muffins


So, these were supposed to be those blueberry muffins that came in out in the NYTimes last week – that new recipe with the smashed blueberries in it. Only when I went to the freezer to get the blueberries, I forgot himself had been making smoothies and….yeah, you see where this is going. But, because my poor long-suffering husband is awesome, he said, “what about cranberries? You have those.” Indeed. And they’re nice and tangy, to boot!

So a little tweak here and there, add some crumb topping and serve with some marmelade! Yum!!

That is kumquat marmelade, from my friend K’s tree, btw. Never made it before – turned out a bit thin, but yummy! (The interwebs tell me I overcooked it a bit and so killed some the pectin from the seeds. Sigh.) I’d never seen kumquats like those, turns out they are a hybrid with a mandarin orange and are called Fukushu. Those little fruits were so pretty, too. The peel itself was sweet. Amazeballs.

Well – lets bake! These cook under half an hour, and are gorgeous and slightly sweet. If you have some marmelade, it takes it to a whole new level.

Cranberry Crumb Muffins (yield 12-ish)

Preheat oven to 375. Line twelve muffin cups.

For the crumb topping:

1 stick unsalted butter
¾ c. sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ c. AP flour
1 Tbsp corn starch
Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until it’s crumbly. Set aside.

For the muffins:
In the mixer on low until it looks like fine crumbs.
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 ¼ c. sugar
2 c. AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp salt

Add in, and then mix on medium high for a minute or two until thick and fluffy.
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir in:
2 c. fresh cranberries (not sweetened dried!).

Spoon in to lined muffin cups, top with the crumb mix and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a tester comes out clean.

These are so yummy – lots of good feedback (nyuk!) from the neighbors.