Category Archives: in the kitchen

in the kitchen

inspiration in the kitchen: chayote squash

August 19, 2015

Chayote Squash

While visiting my granny in Colorado this summer, I made several trips to her local grocery store. I love grocery stores. I love the bright, vibrant colors in the produce section, and I love happening upon new things in grocery stores I don’t usually go to. At this particular market, I noticed a bright green, funky looking squash called a chayote squash. It’s a little cactus-y in shape and color, and also reminds me of Arnold’s grandma from Hey Arnold! (Comment below if this late 1990’s/early 2000’s cartoon was one of your faves!)

While also spending time in Colorado, my cousin Carrie introduced me to the best taco shop I’ve ever been to–Fuzzy’s. I think I had their tacos three nights in a row, during my mere seven day stay. Their vegetarian tacos were by far my favorite, and during the 15 hour drive home, I kept imagining recreating the simple, flavorful taco and adding the chayote squash to learn about the ingredient.

Vegetarian Tacos

This easy summer dish is gaining popularity in my house because our favorite weeknight meals are those that require easy prep and little measuring!

Chayote Squash Veggie Tacos

makes 6 tacos

Ingredients

1 chayote squash, peeled + diced
1 medium white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small bag of shredded carrots
1 can of black beans, drained (or you can be awesome and cook dry beans!)
1 lime, sliced into wedges
1/2 vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil + some for brushing the tortillas
6 corn tortillas
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
fresh cilantro and feta for garnishing

Directions

In a dutch oven (or a small pot), heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When its warm, add the cumin, chili powder, onions and garlic, sauteing until soft and fragrant. Add the shredded carrots, black beans, salt, pepper, and vegetable stock. Cover and let it simmer until the carrots are just a little under cooked. Add the squash and continue cooking until all of the veggies are tender.

Just before serving, brush the corn tortillas and brown both sides in a skillet. Spoon the veggies into the tortilla. Top with a little cilantro, a sprinkle or two of feta, and finish with a little lime juice.

SO easy and so good. What’s your favorite summer dish and where’s the best place for tacos in your city?

–Cat

in the kitchen

three/twenty six: baguette

August 5, 2015

Baguette Butter and Jam

Baguette is the third of 26 French recipes I’m endeavoring to make before my next birthday. Here you can find my complete list and each recipe I’ve completed so far.

Oh, bread. My ultimate comfort food. So many ways to work it. I’m a particular fan of toast and especially fond of grilled cheese sandwiches, and, let’s face it…my salads are usually 90% crouton. On bad days it takes all of my willpower not to walk to our local bakery and buy every baguette in sight. On good days, it also takes all of my willpower not to walk to our local bakery and buy every baguette in sight. What can I say?

Baguette Starter

My first attempt at baguette was nothing short of questionable–as with all of my previous encounters with active dry yeast, I was never really sure it was doing what it was supposed to be doing. In addition, the dough was the stickiest concoction I’ve ever kneaded. But the end result was magnificently delicious. So if it smells like baguette, tastes like baguette, and sorta kinda looks like baguette, we can call that a kinda win, right?

Fresh Baguette

Baguette

If you would like to try your hand at baking baguette, I recommend a crash course in yeast, and all things King Arthur Flour, including this tutorial. Next time, I’m planning on playing around with the water quantities with my dough to try and achieve larger bubbles–I erred on the side of less since I live in Missouri and I baked on a particularly humid day. I am also going to study up on kneading techniques, because at one point both of my hands were locked tight in a gluten trap!

Next up in 26 Before 27 will either be coq a vin or oeufs en cocotte. Help me decide!

–Cat

P.S. If you’re local and you would like me to deliver a free loaf to you next time I bake baguette, leave a comment below! (Seriously. I cannot keep eating 23 loaves of baguette a week.)

in the kitchen

Inspiration in the Kitchen: Za’atar and Lemon Roasted Chicken

July 20, 2015

Za'atar and Lemon Roasted Chicken

One of my favorite things to do on a rainy day or when I’m feeling bored or blue is to roam through an international grocery store. There’s awesome smells, neat things to look at, and interesting ingredients to buy. A few weeks ago I went to buy my favorite sparkling lemonade and I noticed a bag of bright green spices called Za’atar. I picked it up, smelled it vigorously like the nerd that I am, and knew I had to buy it. If the word “verdant” had a smell–it would smell like za’atar!

Za'atar + olive oil + salt + pepper

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend of wild thyme, dried sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. The first time I cooked with it, I decided to go simple and just rub it on some chicken. Since then I’ve roasted potatoes sprinkled with za’atar, swirled it with olive oil for bread dipping, included it in chicken soup, and even made a little vinaigrette with it. It’s really, really versatile and will be a staple in my kitchen from now on.

Za'atar + olive oil + salt + pepper

Za’atar and Lemon Roasted Chicken

serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 whole chicken (about 3 or 4 lbs), cut into 8 pieces
Za’atar
olive oil
1 lemon, zested and sliced into eights
a handfull of kalamata olives
salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the chicken pieces in a generous amount of olive oil. Season with the za’atar, salt, and pepper. Lay in a single layer in a roasting pan and sprinkle with lemon zest. Top with lemon slices and kalamata olives. Bake at 375 degrees  for about 35 minutes or until chicken reaches the appropriate temperature. Broil a little to get the skin extra crispy.

I cooked up a batch of tri-color quinoa and blanched some asparagus to go with the chicken. Try adding the roasted olives to the quinoa, along with a sprinkle of za’atar!

 

If you’re interested in more za’atar recipes, here is a great Middle Eastern cookbook to peruse!

–Cat

 

in the kitchen

Red, White, and Blue Madeleines

July 3, 2015

Madeleine Trio for the 4th of July

Just a few days ago, my sister crossed madeleines off of her 26 Before 27 list of French recipes. Long story short, they were delicious. Today we bring you the same French dessert with a 4th of July twist. Of course, you could use this particular trio to celebrate holidays in any of the many countries that also have red, white, and blue flags. Take your pick!

The possibilities were endless when it came to creating red, white and blue colors, but we wanted a subtle celebratory factor with a focus on flavor. We settled on cherry almond, chocolate coconut, and lemon blueberry. All three are delicious, but the cherry almond is by far my favorite! If you only have enough time to tackle one flavor, do the cherry almond. Seriously.

Cherry and AlmondCoconut and Chocolate ChipsBlueberries and Lemon

Red, White, and Blue Madeleines
makes 12

For the batter:
7 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons milk

You’ll also need a special shell shaped pan, or you can use a mini muffin tin.

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Slowly melt the butter and set aside to cool. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and the baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and frothy. Add the milk and honey to the cooled butter and then add mixture to egg, giving it a whisk to incorporate. Add half of the flour into the buttery egg mixture, stirring to eliminate lumps; incorporate remaining flour. At this point add any extract or citrus zest to flavor your madeleines (see below). Fill a pastry bag with your batter (or, like us, you can use a plastic Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe enough batter to fill each shell 3/4 of the way full.

For cherry almond madeleines, add 1 teaspoon of pure almond extract to the batter. After piping the batter into the pan, add a dollop of cherry jam and a few slivers of almond into the center.

For lemon blueberry madeleines, fold the zest of 1 lemon into the batter. After piping the batter into the pan, add a few blueberry halves into the middle.

Bake for five minutes, rotate your pan and then bake for an additional seven minutes or until the edges have a golden brown hue. Remove from oven and transfer to a drying rack (wax paper will work as well).

For chocolate coconut madeleines, melt 1/2 cup of high quality dark chocolate in a double boiler. Dip baked and cooled madeleines into the chocolate and immediately sprinkle with coconut.

 

Fourth of July Madeleines

 

Happy 4th of July!

–Becca

in the kitchen

two/twenty six: madeleines

June 20, 2015

Madeleines

Madeleine, a French cookie, is the second of 26 French recipes I’m endeavoring to make before my next birthday. Here you can find my complete list and each recipe I’ve completed so far.

When I decided to embark on cooking 26 French recipes over the course of a year, I gathered recipes based on only one thing: obvious deliciousness. I paid no mind to whether the recipe called for strange ingredients (I’m up for adventure) or required complicated technique–I do look forward to the challenge!

My first recipe, the croquembouche, took a lot of demystification. The choux pastry alone took several attempts before proper puff-age occurred. And after filling the puffs, precariously stacking them into a tower, and risking injury while spinning sugar, I can’t say I can recall the tastiness of the cream puffs themselves–I mostly just remember the experience of creating the croquembouche.

Madeleine cookies, by contrast, were refreshingly uncomplicated!’

Madeleines are French cookies that are traditionally baked in a shell shaped pan. I sought the wisdom of Rachel Khoo as I tried my hand at these beautiful, dainty cookies. Her recipe puts a twist on the traditional with a sticky, sweet raspberry baked smack dab in the middle of the cookie and a lemon curd filling that adds extra tartness. I certainly expected the madeleine batter to be full of twists and turns, but it turned out to be rather simple!  Attempting to control my oven temperature throughout the three baking periods (375 degrees for five minutes, oven off for 1 minute, 325 degrees for another five) was the only time I had to remind myself to chill out.

Mise en Place

The verdict? Obviously delicious and surprisingly approachable. Becca and I enjoyed them straight from the oven in all their warm, lemony goodness.

Now the lemon curd I attempted from scratch? Totally different story. In fact, I had to make an emergency run to the grocery store to buy some. So I’ve added lemon curd to the list of things to try again, but I’m most excited about adding my own ideas to these light, buttery cookies. I’m imagining some red, white, and blue madeleines for the 4th of July…

Definitely my new favorite.

–Catherine