When I told you guys that I hate cooking in the summer, I meant it. I don’t know if it’s the heat or the long days, but I just can’t stand to be in the kitchen. Or, at the very least, turn on the oven.
Case in point: this was our menu this week:
Sunday: 4th of July BBQ at friends
Monday: pulled chicken sammies with leftover chicken
Tuesday: burgers and grilled veggies on the BBQ
Wednesday: grilled cheese sandwiches
Thursday (tonight): I’m thinkin’ pesto zoodles with tomato feta salad
So – quick and easy stove-top dinners or no-mess outdoor grilling is where it’s at. And the oven? I’ll save that for holiday cooking in a couple of months!
Stove-top cooking can get repetitive. I mean I love grilled cheese and all, but how much of it can I eat? (I plead the fifth)! I definitely try to think outside the box for some satisfying seasonal dishes that make the most of summer bounty. There’s only one thing better than juicy summer peaches and that’s caramelizing them in butter and brown sugar. And when you add the spicy, crunchy jalapenos + the bitter arugula and cheesy gouda, it’s like a quesadilla made in heaven!
Gouda is actually one of my favorite cheeses. It’s so gooey (is that why they call it goo-da? ;) jk!) with great meltability (yeah, that’s now a word). I love it with fruit so it works wonders in this cheesy quesadilla.
Gouda is also great cut into chunks so if you’re going for no-carb meals this summer, try my salad variation! And if carbs are your thing year-round (why you looking at me?!), try this as a pizza, flatbread or grilled cheese with artisan bread!
OK this post has me seriously craving this combo, so I’m off to the store to pick up some more peaches and gouda! Have a “goud” day!!
Caramelized Peach & Gouda Quesadillas
2 flour tortillas
1 cup grated Natural & Kosher cheese gouda
1 large peach, sliced
1 tbsp butter + more for greasing the pan
1 tbsp brown sugar
handful of arugula
In a skillet, melt the butter and add peach slices. Sprinkle with brown sugar and saute until the peaches are soft and caramelized. Remove the peaches from the pan and wipe clean.
Add a bit more butter to the pan and place the tortilla in it. Sprinkle with gouda. When the cheese begins to melt, add the peach slices, jalapeno and arugula to half of the quesadilla and fold closed. Cut the quesadilla into quarters and serve immediately.
NO-CARB VARIATION: Make a salad with arugula, sliced peaches (caramelizing optional), chunks of gouda and thinly sliced jalapeno. Make a dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad.
I’m pretty proud of myself. You see, usually when I make lists, it’s just to get stuff off my head and onto a piece of paper. But every since I made my 2016 Foodie Resolution List, I’ve actually been making my through it!
Case in point: fried poached eggs. Well lookie here! Amazingly crisp and perfectly runny eggs dripping their way down some silky pappardelle pasta with bright green spinach. Perfection on a plate.
I’ve also mastered soft pretzels, fresh pita, caramel and I’ve got kataifi waiting in my freezer. That’s almost 5 out of a 9 and it’s only February! This is going to be one productive year in the BIB kitchen. Are you excited?
Now a foodie confession. It’s hard to admit but I was never one for feta cheese. Just something about the texture was off to me, so Greek salad was never on the menu.
But then Natural & Kosher cheese sent me their new brined feta and lo and behold, I loved the stuff! I also realized that if you grate it, the texture is so light and appealing, and when you add it to hot pasta, it’s salty goodness melts into the sauce. So there! I kinda like feta now!
It’s hard not like to cheese when it’s coated in egg yolk, crispy breadcrumbs and delicious sauteed spinach. This recipe really brings together all of my favorite things. Papardelle pasta being one of them.
I’m really not one for heavy pasta dishes like spaghetti bolognese or even baked ziti. Give me some linguini with olive oil and a poached egg and I’m set. With pasta being so heavy, it really keeps things light, instead of the thick tomato sauces that are commonly used. And can you imagine this with zoodles? OMG delish. I’m definitely going to give it a try.
Speaking of zoodles, my dieting hasn’t been going too well these days. I think it’s the winter blues. With all the freezing weather and snow, I’ve been craving comfort food. Like pasta. And carbs. Lots and lots of carbs.
The funny thing is I met someone in the store yesterday who looked at me with her mouth hanging open, saying I had lost so much weight. I wondered when was the last time she saw me because I’ve more or less been the same weight for a while now (which is very far from skinny). I guess it was the awesome coat I was wearing, that always seems to make me look skinnier than I am. Don’t you just love those wardrobe pieces? I took the compliment happily and then went on to the bakery aisle where I snatched up a crusty baguette. Oh carbs how I love thee.
But now, NOW that I sorta like feta, I’ve got to order me some Greek salad. Summer is just a couple of months away. And no matter how skinny said coat makes me look, it’s going to be making it’s way the back of my closet come June. I think it’s time to chuck the pappardelle and bring out my spiralizer.
But wait, first Purim. Some hamantaschen. And then. OK??
Spinach Pappardelle with Feta & Fried Poached Egg
8 oz. pappardelle pasta (or pasta of your choice)
5 oz. bag baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup reserved pasta water
1 pkg Natural & Kosher feta cheese in brine, grated
4 poached eggs (how to poach eggs)
1/3 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
canola oil, for frying
Add pasta and a pinch of salt to boiling water and cook for 8 minutes, or until al dente, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. While the pasta is cooking, saute the garlic in oil until fragrant and add spinach. Saute until wilted and season with salt and pepper. Add the hot pasta to the pan and mix into the spinach, adding small amounts of pasta water until the pasta is loose and creamy (you won’t need all the water). Add grated feta and continue to cook until melted into the sauce (if desired) or serve as-is.
For the fried poached eggs, poach the eggs and immediately place in a bowl with ice water to stop cooking. Drain on paper towels. Arrange a breading station with bowls of flour, egg and breadcrumbs (you may season each with salt and pepper, if desired). Carefully dredge the poached egg in flour, then egg, and then panko, shaking off excess from each. Heat canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the egg until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately, with freshly ground pepper over the top.
VARIATION: for a spicy kick, drizzle some sriracha over the top.
LIGHTED IT UP: Use zoodles instead of pappardelle for a low-carb alternative.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and I guess that’s how this recipe came to be. I mean, you can’t say you’ve really tried every type of egg dish over Passover until you’ve tried scrambled hard-boiled eggs, right?
My mother has been making these on Passover for as long as I can remember. She learned to make them from my grandmother, who learned to make them from her mother. I’m not sure if this is a traditional Hungarian dish, or if my great-grandmother invented it. I imagine there wasn’t much else to eat back in Europe besides for eggs and potatoes, with a little chicken or meat on the side, if they were lucky. So creativity with eggs and potatoes was a must. How else can you explain adding hard boiled eggs to runny scrambled ones?
Eggs on eggs might sound kind of weird. Ok, it does sound really weird, but trust me when I tell you that these scrambled hard-boiled eggs are incredibly delicous. Adding hard-boiled eggs to the scrambled ones make this dish substantial enough to serve for lunch, with a side of salad or matza and cheese.
Scrambled hard-boiled eggs is just one of the interesting recipes my family whips up with eggs over Pesach. There’s also our sweet nut omelette that we’d whip up for breakfast and the mock chopped liver that begins with some deeply caramelized onions.
Aside from eggs and potatoes, sauteed onions are the other quintessential Passover ingredient. Since we don’t use spices or processed ingredients over the holiday, sauteed onions are a crucial base for adding flavor to every dish. These scrambled hard-boiled eggs are no exception.
Scrambled Hard-Boiled Eggs
2 tbsp oil or shmaltz
1 small onion, thinly sliced into half rings
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and mashed
4 raw eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
Saute the onions in oil until deeply golden and caramelized. Add the mashed eggs and saute for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. whisk the raw eggs and season with salt and pepper, Pour over the cooked eggs mixture and stir until scrambled but still slightly wet (but not runny). Serve immediately.
If you frequent my blog, you’ve probably noticed that while I love gourmet food, I tend to lean towards quick and easy recipes that I can disguise as fancy. I’m all about the 1-2-3 – as long as it tastes good. But sometimes, just sometimes, I want to take the time to make something from scratch that rivals any dish at a 5-star restaurant. If you have your technique down, and you put love into your food, the results can be beyond extraordinary.
The story of this recipe goes back about a year, when I learned to make pasta from scratch at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts. I could not believe how incredibly easy it was. We made the pasta dough before I could even blink, and rolling it through the pasta machine was so much fun. Filling our homemade ravioli with duck confit and bathing it in demiglace sauce made me realize just how luxurious pasta can be. I went home that night dreaming up all sorts of amazing pasta creations, none of which actually happened. Until now.
If you don’t know this about me already, I’ve got a thing for mashup recipes. I just love to deconstruct traditional recipes and break them down into playful ideas. So when I learned to make pasta from scratch, it was only natural for me to take it the next level and dream up something crazy. I had this idea to deconstruct mushroom barley soup into a ravioli. I’d make barley ravioli, fill it with flanken and smother it in a velvetty wild mushroom sauce.
It was all a dream, until one day, a couple of weeks ago, my friend Melinda and I decided to plan a day of cooking together in my kitchen. Melinda is an adventurous cook who’s not afraid to try anything. She blogs about her kitchen experiments on kitchen-tested where she shares many of her fabulous recipes.
We were brainstorming about cooking ideas and I came back to the deconstructed mushroom barley ravioli that I had wanted to make for so long. Since Melinda is a big dessert person, we decided to do ravioli 2 ways. I would tackle the savory part of the meal while Melinda would do a dessert ravioli. Melinda is obsessed with s’mores so I wasn’t surprised when she came up with the idea to make a fried graham-cracker-crusted chocolate ravioli stuffed with chocolate and marshmallows.
Being the dedicated foodies/bloggers that we are, we decided that it would be fun to blog about our cooking experience and share the recipes while linking to each other’s posts. And so here we are.
One of the best parts of making this dish was getting to use my Le Creuset dutch oven for the first time! I had wanted the pricey pot since forever, I just couldn’t bring myself to splurge on it. Luckily, I won a $500 gift card to Williams Sonoma after winning 2nd place in The Mushroom Channel’s Swap It or Top It Contest for my portobello mushroom burger with sundried tomato aioli. As soon as my gift card came in the mail, I knew just what I would spend my winnings on! A dutch oven was #1 on my list, followed by a good quality electric knife sharpener.
The night before Melinda was to come, I sharpened up my knives with my new machine and went to work braising short ribs in my new dutch oven. I prepared the pasta dough in my food processor, following a recipe from Lidia Bastianich, the queen of Italian cooking. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make the pasta dough! It came together in no time – exactly as Lidia had said.
Cooking day was finally here and we were beside ourselves with excitement. Melinda settled in to my kitchen and checked out my photography “studio” (aka the corner in my kid’s playroom). We started off our day with some s’mores coffee (an Archer Farms limited edition that I was saving for my s’mores-loving friend!) and got right down to ravioli-making. With my dough and meat already prepped, we rolled out the pasta dough and filled it with short ribs. While Melinda helped with the pasta, I got to work on the incredible wild mushroom sauce. It was so rich and flavorful, we could barely hold out while we photographed it. After sharing some shots with our fans on Instagram, we finally sat down to savor the fruits of our labor. The fresh barley pasta, paired with the shredded beef and velvetty mushroom sauce was truly reminiscent of mushroom barley soup. All in all: success!
Barley Ravioli with Short Ribs and Wild Mushroom Sauce
2 lbs. boneless flanken (short ribs)
1 tsp olive oil
s&p, to taste
1 leek, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 cup dry red wine (I used merlot)
6 sprigs thyme, divided
4 cups beef or chicken broth
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chopped assorted mushrooms (I used oyster, shitake and baby bella)
1 tbsp flour
Heat a dutch oven and drizzle with olive oil. Season flanken with salt & pepper and sear on both sides. Remove from the pot. Add leek, garlic, carrot and celery and saute (add more oil if needed) for several minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine. Return the meat to the pot and add 4 sprigs of thyme, broth, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and place in the oven for 3 hours at 300 degrees.
When the flanken is ready, remove the meat from the pot and break it apart into shreds. Place a fine mesh sieve over a small pot or bowl and strain the cooking liquid through the sieve. Once the vegetables have been separated from the cooking liquid, remove the sprigs of thyme from the vegetables and mix the vegetables with the shredded flanken. If the mixture is dry, add up to 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
Take the remaining cooking liquid that you strained through the sieve and place it in the freezer (for about 20 minutes) so that the fat has a chance to congeal. Remove the fat and set the sauce aside.
In a saute pan, saute the shallots and garlic until fragrant. Add mushrooms and cook over high heat so that the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms caramelize. Add the flour and saute until golden. Add the reserved cooking liquid, 2 sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper and cook until thickened. If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with a bit of beef broth. If it is too thin, continue to cook until reduced and thickened.
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup barley flour
2 large eggs
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons water
In a bowl, combine the eggs, oil and water and whisk to combine. Put both flours in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and blend for a few seconds to aerate. While the food processor is running, pour the egg mixture through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, until a dough forms and gathers on the blade. If the dough does not gather on the blade or process easily, it is too wet or dry. Feel the dough, then work in more flour or ice water, in small amounts, using the processor or kneading by hand. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for a minute, until it’s smooth, soft, and stretch.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let stand for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Divide the pasta dough into four parts and cover so that it doesn’t dry out. Working one at a time, roll the dough through a pasta machine into about 1/16″ thickness. Place rounded teaspoonfuls of flanken filling 1″ apart over half the sheet of pasta. Brush around the filling with water to moisten and fold the sheet over, pressing down to seal. Cut into squares with a ravioli press, pastry wheel or knife. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook for about 2 minutes, until ravioli float to the top and are tender. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and serve immediately with mushroom sauce.
NOTE: Since only a teaspoonful of filling is used in the ravioli, I had quite a bit of leftover shredded meat. It is so flavorful and delicious, I’m sure you won’t complain, but if you’d like, you can reduce the amount of flanken to 1 lb. so you don’t have much leftovers.
VARIATION: While I love the idea of making barley pasta dough with this recipe, you may use wonton wrappers, if you do not wish to make pasta dough from scratch.
Now that you’ve “sampled” my barley ravioli with wild mushroom sauce, it’s time for some dessert! Head on over to kitchen-tested for a step-by-step guide to making Melinda’s fried smore’s chocolate ravioli!
Here are some outtakes from our lunch together! I hope you had fun reading about our ravioli adventure!
Believe it or not, I’m not the biggest tomato person. I’ll happily leave them out of my burger, and I never put them in my tuna sandwiches. My husband, on the other hand, is tomato-obsessed. Ask him what he would take to a desert island, and I know without a doubt, that it would be a boat-load of tomatoes. So when it comes to salad-making, you can imagine that we are not always in agreement.
Summer, though, is the exception. There’s just something about summer tomatoes that is so deliciously sweet. Instead of arguing about adding tomatoes to the salad, we end up making tomato-only salads. Using an assortment of tomatoes like red and yellow tomatoes on the vine, or colorful heirloom tomatoes, makes for a beautiful presentation. With summer tomatoes being so juicy and delicious, you really don’t need much to make them sing. A simple drizzle of good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar is enough to dress them up. Feta adds protein, color, and saltiness, to balance out the tomatoes sweet flavor.
Needless to say, my husband is in LOVE with this salad. I hope you will be too.
Summer Tomato Feta Salad
Red & yellow tomatoes on the vine (or heirloom tomatoes)
Good quality olive oil
Black pepper, optional
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Method: Slice the tomatoes, about 1/4″ thick. Lay the tomatoes on a platter, alternating between red and yellow. Sprinkle the feta cheese over the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with kosher salt. Garnish with parsley.