Monthly Archives: July 2013

Watermelon Bites w/Mint-Marinated Feta and Balsamic Reduction

 

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I’ve been on a bit of a feta cheese kick of late.

Honestly there isn’t ever a time when I don’t enjoy adding salty, tangy, creamy feta to anything and everything around, especially now, the peak of tomato season.

I’d meaning to fill a few jars and marinate some, but I just couldn’t stop eating it long enough to put in a jar. Finally, with a bag of fresh mint from my Mom’s garden in front of me, I dropped some cubes of feta in a jar with the mint and lemon zest and drowned it in olive oil to soak, but it wasn’t long before I pulled it right back out for a tasty treat!

It’s been well over a decade since I had my first feta and watermelon salad. Now those seem to be a staple on lots of summer restaurant menus.

I decided to make a salad-in-a-bite to take to a get together with some friends last week.

This a great refreshing little pop of flavor and super simple to put together, but I would advise putting assembling away from hungry family members. Once the nibbling starts these go quickly!

Note, the watermelons in our area have been pretty flavorless lately, if that is the case where you are, you could do the same thing with tomatoes cut into bite sized pieces.

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WATERMELON BITES w/MINT MARINATED FETA and BALSAMIC REDUCTION

watermelon

fresh mint

marinated feta

balsamic vinegar

honey

 

MARINATED FETA

feta

lemon zest

pink peppercorns

fresh mint

olive oil

Cut feta into small cubes.

Using desired size jar, place a layer of feta cubes on the bottom. Top with torn mint leaves, lemon zest and a sprinkle of pink peppercorns.

Repeat the layers until the jar is full.

Add olive oil to cover.

Store in fridge.

Remove from fridge about 15-20 minutes before using.

It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

½ cup balsamic vinegar

1 TB honey

Put vinegar and honey in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce to an active simmer until reduce by half.

Remove from heat. It will thicken as it cools.

TO ASSEMBLE

Cut watermelon into bite-sized cubes.

Top each piece with a fresh mint leaf and feta.

Drizzle with balsamic.

Serve.

 

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Gluten Free Nutella Stuffed Choc Choc Chip Cookies

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I’ve been dreaming about making these cookies for well over a month now. A lingering cold, bronchitis and anything else you can think of that will keep you coughing and your taste-buds zapped, I’ve had. Seems my diet has consisted of lots of cough syrup and cough drops for more than a month…but that is probably a whole other blog!

Recently I finally felt motivated to get back in the kitchen and play around!

I spotted these cookies on Pinterest – yes I admit I can kill an hour or three pinning recipes, or lately light fixtures for our kitchen renovation. Actually last week it was counter stools. Again probably a whole other blog topic!

For those of you not on the Pinterest bandwagon yet, it really can be a great place to collect recipes, do-it-yourself projects, beagle pictures….

So I re-pinned these from cookingclassy.com, as well as a non-chocolate version which browned the butter first from justonecookbook.com. My version combines the two recipes and makes them gluten free.

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I was not sure the browned butter would stand up to the dark cocoa, but it does. Not in a hit-you-in-the-face-with-my-nuttiness kind of way, but it adds a depth of flavor people won’t be able to pin-point, but would notice if it was gone.

These can be a bit time-consuming, only because you need to freeze the Nutella and chill the cookie dough and you don’t simply plop the dough on a baking sheet and bake. There are some steps involved, but don’t think that means they are difficult at all.

I made one dozen the other night, then assembled the cookies and froze them for later use. Which, around here, probably means tomorrow! But nice to know these freeze up so well! Just let them sit at room temp for a 10-15 minutes or while the oven preheats, pop them in and cook ‘em up.

On the gluten free note, I have rarely gone wrong when I bake cookies with C4C or King Arthur AP Gluten Free flour. These truly do work well in a cup-to-cup exchange for regular flour especially in cookie recipes.

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2 1/4 cups GF flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teas baking powder

1/2 teas baking soda

1/2 teas salt

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teas vanilla

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup Nutella

Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and melt slowly until the butter foams, the milk solids separate and it develops a light brown caramel color. DO NOT walk away once the butter starts foaming as it can go from foam to brown to burnt very quickly!

I also find that doing this over a medium heat is better than rushing the process over med-high heat.

Once the butter has browned, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, mix sugars and browned butter together until smooth. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla with final egg.

Set mixer on low speed and add dry ingredients. I like to add half at a time.

Stir in chocolate chips. NOTE: reserve a handful of chips to stick on top of cookies before baking if desired. This does make for a very nice presentation, but is not at all essential.

Place cookie dough in airtight container and chill for at least an hour.

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While the dough is chilling, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put Nutella in a pastry bag or Ziploc bag (cut small part of one corner out) and pipe roughly 1 ½ teas sized circles onto parchment. You should have at least 30.

Place in freezer for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

To assemble the cookies, form a ball with 2TB of dough, use your thumb to make an indentation and place a frozen Nutella drop into it, then fold cookie dough over the top to seal in Nutella.

Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet and prepare remaining cookies. If the Nutella gets too soft to work with, pop it back into the freezer for a bit.

Press reserved chocolate chips on tops of cookies as desired.

Bake 10-12 minutes. A minute or 2 longer if using previously frozen dough.

Cookies will still look very soft and wet.

Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Gluten Free Pasta with Pepper

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Super simple.

So much so, it almost seems silly to write out a recipe, but use this as a reminder not to over think things all the time. So often the simplest of dishes, dare I say more often than not, are the best!

Serve this up on a weeknight when the cupboards are bare, your CSA box isn’t delivered until tomorrow and you have no desire to hit the grocery store.

This dish is absolutely about the pepper, so go as heavy-handed as you like. You are meant to feel the heat!

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PASTA with PEPPER

1 box quinoa spaghetti (or other gluten free spaghetti or fettuccini)

1 clove garlic

2 TB olive oil

3 TB butter

1-2 heaping teas fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt

Bring large pot of generously salted water to a boil, cook pasta to al dente.

Heat large sauté pan over med-high heat. Add olive oil.

Lower heat to medium-low add butter and garlic and pinch of salt. Add pepper when butter melts and starts to foam.

Remove pan from heat.

Add cooked pasta and Parmesan cheese to pan. Toss over low heat until cheese melts.

Top with more cheese and drizzle of good olive oil.

Enjoy!

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