Thursday, May 16, 2013

Caesar Pasta and Lettuce Salad with Apple

It's an oldie but a goodie in our house. When Melis and I first started out, we found recipes that were not only interesting, but easy. We weren't into the complicated or the fussy. Just good food that peaked our interest that didn't take too much effort. And this recipe fit the bill perfectly. There is a great bookstore here in Seattle called Elliot Bay Book Company. It used to be down in Pioneer Square in a great old building with lots of little rooms and a quirky attitude. Those were the days. Roaming the "halls" one day, we stumbled across a pasta book. We don't typically buy pasta books because that was the one thing we actually knew how to cook well, but this one caught out eye. Not only did it have the traditional pasta recipes so readily found, it had strange, albeit, delicious sounding recipes that we would have never thought of on our own.The recipe today is a case in point. It takes a traditional Caesar salad and turns it into a pasta-lettuce combo and adds apples. Yes, you read that right, apples. Who would have thunk that Caesar dressing would work with fruit? It so does. The 2 of us started making this dish when we were 22. We are just a few years older now but we still reminisce and crave this salad from time to time. Give it a try. It will shock you how good and interesting and fabulous this dish is in the mouth.

Caesar Pasta and Lettuce Salad with Apple

4 oz pasta
3 cups lettuce, chopped
1 apple, diced
Caesar dressing, preferably homemade
Black Pepper
Parmesan cheese.

Cook the pasta, drain and toss with remaining ingredients. We will let you decide how much of the dressing, pepper and cheese to add! This dish is great warm, room temp or cold so take it anywhere.

Yields 2 servings.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Beer Cheese Dip

I was just at a work conference this last week and I heard a funny analogy. Jeff, was talking about a boring but rather useful product on the market and acquaited not having it to Buffalo Chicken Beer Cheese Dip. Bare with me, it will all make sense in a minute. You see, he was so thrilled to be using a product that he hadn't had access to in the past that he said: "it's like your have been eating your family's famous appetizers your whole life and then one day someone brings Buffalo Chicken Beer Cheese Dip and you feel like you have been cheated all this time." The analogy made me laugh and then it made me hungry.

What is not to love about Buffalo chicken, beer and cheese? Nothing. It is perfection in a bite. Add in some corn chips and it is appetizer nirvana. This is suitable for Superbowl parties, birthday parties, potlucks, breakfast...anything! So thank you Jeff, for the lovely chat and the great idea. Now dig in!

Buffalo Chicken Beer Cheese Dip

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
8 oz sour cream
16 oz neufchatel cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup Parmesan
3/4 cup Mozzarella, plus ½ cup mozzarella for top
1/3 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
2/3 cup beer
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs cornstarch
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
Corn chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, add the chicken and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, add the sour cream, cream cheese, Parmesan, 3/4 cup mozzarella, Franks Red Hot, beer, garlic powder and cornstarch; process until well combined.

Pour into an oven safe dish and stir in chicken pieces. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and bake in the preheated oven until warm and cheese is bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with blue cheese and serve warm with corn chip and celery

Yields 1-12 servings.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Twin Tables Chickpea Soup

It hailed today. Not normal hail, but what we like to call (is this for real?) snow hail.  In fact the back yard looked like a winter road, in mid-April.  What?  We either need to click our heels together and say there is no place like home to wake from this bad dream, or we need to suck it up and admit we should move.  With the latter being a little more realistic (not saying we didn't try the heel gig) we fought cold with warm.  Since spring has departed to revert back to winter, the 2 of us thought soup sounded rather darn good for dinner. Nothing like soup to warm chilled bones.

But what soup to make? About 2 years ago, I had the chance to eat at Poppy in Capital Hill here in Seattle. It is a totally different eating experience and a must try if visiting. The one menu item that really stuck out most in memory was the chickpea soup with crispy chickpea garnish.  It was simply amazing and for once, I actually cannot remember (or had no idea) what the chef put in that soup. Other than chickpeas of course! This left a blank canvas to accompany a fond memory for us when we tried to recreate! What fun.

We used our crispy roasted chickpea recipe from the past and seasoned our peas with salt, cumin and turmeric. Next it was on to the far too many recipes.  So we took the best from all and began the experiment.  A little bit to the traditional, we added cumin.  A little nod to the non-traditional, we added rosemary.  Chicken broth to make it completely unsuitable for a vegetarian, but delicious, we sauteed, stirred, pureed, and seasoned this soup to simple perfection.  We get an A for effort and taste.  There is no doubt we will be making this again.

Twin Tables Chickpea Soup
Cooking Spray
3/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 sprig rosemary
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp crispy chickpeas
2 Tbsp olive oil

Heat a soup pot over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the onion; cook for one minute. Add the rosemary and continue to cook until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and season with salt and cumin; cook 1-2 minutes more. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Remove rosemary sprig from the pot and puree soup with an immersion blender or blender. Return soup to low heat and add remaining water, bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice. Adjust seasoning as desired.

Divide soup into 2 bowls and garnish with anything green, (we used arugula and cilantro) and top with crispy chickpeas. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Yields 2 servings


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