I love fennel. It’s mildly sweet, just barely licorice flavored. It’s crunchy and refreshing. My favorite way to eat this frondy vegetable is thinly sliced, tossed with some salt, truffle oil, and a squeeze of lemon. I tossed some darkly roasted almonds on the top of this salad this weekend and enjoyed it with dinner.
You may choose not to add the lemon, but the truffle oil and salt are a must. The black truffle oil adds a dimension and luxurious quality that pairs beautifully with this crunchy salad.
I have so many delicious things to share with you… but March has been kicking my ass. So many things to do and such limited time… and there are just so many things I NEED to do… and so many I WANT to do….
Be back with some recipes soon.
I spend about 18 hours a day in front of my computer… and if not directly in front of my computer in the very near vicinity doing something with my computer. I’m a law student, so naturally I’m addicted to my computer and the internet. I often scroll through blogs and recipes, making note of the blog addresses so I can zip back and try the recipes. Occasionally, I’ll forget these amazing blog addresses and then I’ll spend the next boring class charging through hundreds of blogs and recipes trying to find that elusive recipe that I remember, but kinda don’t remember.
Anyway, I remember a year or so ago reading this amazing blog about this family that was traveling and eating roasted coconut. I also remember scribbling the web address down on some scrap of paper… and then promptly forgetting it. Anyway – I recently re-found the excellent blog and the even more brilliant recipe for roasted coconut. See Yummy Supper for excellent pictures, stories, and recipes.
So, I bought two coconuts with the intention of making these roasted coconut strips in my oven. One of the coconuts was horribly rotten (thanks a lot you stupid Safeway!) and the second (and organic from the Fresh Market, my new favorite store) coconut was just wonderfully fragrant and beautiful. Of course I spent about 30 minutes trying to figure out how to open that coconut without breaking my counter. I whacked it a bunch with my rolling pin (sorry baby, those dents aren’t coming out are they) and then poked it some with a chopstick before I finally cracked that baby open.
After prying those little strips out of their shell, and roasting them under the broiler for 15 minutes… I had these piping hot strips of coconut. Delicious!!!
After eating plenty of these toasted strips of coconut, I decided to take the coconut and turn them into cookies too. Kissed with macadamia and vanilla, these crumbly little cookies proved to be just the perfect thing to stave off cloudy winter days.
Coconut and Macadamia Cookies (adapted from a shortbread recipe I found here)
- 1 1/3 cup of flour
- 3/4 cup of good quality butter (Kerrygold or Smjor are my current favorites)
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/2 cup of toasted coconut (unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- Place macadamia nuts in a plastic bag, whack a couple times with your poor rolling pin (at least, mine has been having a rough couple weeks. It’s dented from the coconut, stained from the pomegranate, and now being willy nilly used to smash nuts)
- Shred roasted coconut with a microplane for fine flakes, or a large box shredder for thicker flakes.
- Spread macadamia and coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast at 325 degrees for 10 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool completely before adding to cookie dough.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla.
- Stir in flour, coconut, macadamia, and salt.
- Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes, or until just golden brown at the edges.
A couple weeks ago, I discovered that chubby coins of sweet potato baked at a high temperature turned into these sweet and chewy discs of sweet potato… and I kept promising that I would post this super easy way to make sweet potato even more delicious. So a couple days ago I was in the kitchen peeling sweet potatoes to take photographs, but then I had a little bit of inspiration and made this instead.
It’s nothing like those sticky sweet sweet potato dishes that grace holiday tables… instead it’s spiced with cumin and mashed with a bit of swiss chard. It’s delicious right out of the oven, but just as good cold out of the fridge. If anything, it tastes even better after an overnight stay in the fridge and the flavors have had some time to meld.
Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Casserole (Kaprise Kitchen original)
- 3 medium sized sweet potatoes
- 1 bunch of swiss chard (I used red swiss chard, but any would suffice)
- 1 chicken sausage, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 3/4 cup of full fat greek yogurt
- 1 cup of finely shredded parmesan cheese
- Peel and cube sweet potatoes. In a large pot of salted water, boil cubed potato until tender. About 20 minutes. Drain and cool.
- Cut swiss chard into 1/2 inch ribbons. In a large pot of salter water, blanch the ribbons until just wilted. About 2 minutes. Drain and squeeze excess water out of swiss chard
- In a small sauce pan, brown crumbled sausage. About 5 minutes
- In a large bowl, mash the cooked sweet potato, swiss chard, and sausage together. Add yogurt and cumin and stir until combined.
- Spread mixture into casserole dish, top with cheese, and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until heated through.
I may have just made the best sweet potato dish yet…. will post soon!
At the start of this year, I mentioned that I love January because everything is new and it is an opportunity to start afresh. The air is crisp and cold, and everything just sparkles with promise. However, this year has been really strange. Today it was 65 degrees… I walked by dog in shorts and a tank top. Weird weather for January/February… and I think that with this weird weather comes some weird feelings. I’ve been feeling kinda weird. I don’t really feel hungry or interested in anything food related or even my normal fashion obsessions. Normally I have a project percolating in my head… something I’m obsessed with and busy with… but I haven’t been because I just can’t find my stride in this weather when it’s 65 degrees and then the expected 20 degree chill. Everyone in Baltimore seems to be thrilled with the weather… but it makes me feel weird. I expect to walk out and have the wind steal my breath away and chill me to my core. I LOVE that kind of weather. The kind that simply takes your breath away because the weight of the cold air crushes it out of you.
Plus. I’m pretty sure this funky weather is making everyone crazy. Monday, I was walking home from class and I walked through a crime scene. Cops everywhere and I got yelled at for stepping in blood. BLOOD. Whoever thought that this mild suburbia princess would ever speak those words… “I stepped in blood.” Apparently someone was stabbed outside of my school just a few minutes before. Thank you law school for keeping us all safe. Stupid school. Anyway. My week started on a really bizarre note because of that. I can’t really get the image of the blood out of my head. It was dark and viscous and thickly sitting on the pavement. It was a very strange sight.
I guess this post isn’t really ramping you up for anything food related is it? Well, so I’ll tell you another story before I get to the food. This past weekend I made a huge bowl of white sangria and generously spiked it with cointreau. I had some friends over and we had a great time drinking and eating cheese. It’s amazing how easy a small party is to put together. I had about 10 people and spent less than $50 on the whole affair (except for the Makers… but I drank most of that so it doesn’t count). We had a great time… so much so that I think I’ll throw another sangria party.
So here is how I made my sangria. I generously tasted while I made it… so I was too tipsy to take pictures.
Kaprise Kitchen White Sangria, or Grown-up Fruit Punch
- 2 magnum bottles of Frontera Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 cup of Cointreau, or other orange liquor
- 6 clementines, peeled
- 2 lemons
- 2 limes
- 1 pint of strawberries
- 1 granny smith apple
- 1/2 -1 cup of simple syrup (I used the smaller amount, but if you prefer a sweeter sangria, add the larger amount)
- Wash all of the fruit with fruit/veggie wash. Since you’re soaking the fruit in alcohol, it’s important to get as much wax and pesticide off the fruit.
- I sliced all of my fruit very thinly with my favorite tool… my mandoline! I kept the slices thin and about 1 inch long so that they were pretty floating in the wine but small enough to take dainty bites.
- Peel and thinly slice the clementines.
- Cut the ends of the limes and lemons. Thinly slice with the mandoline. I kept the zest on these fruits.
- Quarter the apple and thinly slice
- Quarter the strawberries and discard the leaves.
- In a large bowl (I have one of those huge pyrex bowls with a lid… so it was perfect!), combine all of the fruit. Squeeze gently on the fruit to release some of the juices.
- Toss the fruit with the orange liquor and simple syrup.
- Pour in wine and stir until combined
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if possible. I made my sangria at 10 am and then served it at 6:00pm…. it was absolutely excellent if I must say so myself.
Since I’ve gotten my little mandoline (which I just noticed my computer autocorrected to mandolin in my last post… fear not, I’ve not been cutting my vegetables with a stringed instrument!) I’ve been on a bit of a vegetable slicing kick. It’s just so much fun! Thin little slices! Even slices!
Anyway, last night in a fit of procrastination, I sliced a couple potatoes and onions on my mandoline and made this crunchy potato slice pancake. It resembles potato chips just melted together. It’s delicious!
Potato Chip Pancake (a Kaprise Kitchen procastination special)
- 1 or 2 medium potatoes, sliced thinly
- 1 small onion, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon of good butter
- Slice the potatoes and onion thinly
- In a small pan (non-stick is always helpful), melt butter
- Arrange potatoes in overlapping circles from outside in
- The first layer should be all potato, with the second and third layers interspersed with onion slices.
- Cook at medium heat until the potato slices have begun to adhere to each other. I shake the pan every so often to make sure the slices don’t stick. The steam from cooking the potatoes should release the starch and act like a glue between the slices and onion.
- Once the bottom has browned, gently flip the pancake in one fluid motion. If your pan is larger, use two spatulas to make sure you don’t lose any pieces.
- Cook until browned on the other side. Add more butter as necessary.
Sprinkle cheese and serve immediately.
I made carnitas! (On a mildly related note, has anyone else noticed that their Mac autocorrects their text? Is this a setting I can change? Because… it keeps correcting my words. So carnitas turns into carnal… wtfffff and when I say OooO! in my chats it changes it to POO! I find this mildly funny, but mostly annoying).
But back to the carnitas… so Homesick Texan’s recipe for carnitas has been on a bit of a blog blitz, and so when I was wandering around a new (and very sweet) grocery store I saw some Boston Butt (tehehe) in the meat case, so I asked the nice butcher to wrap it up for me. I know I’m in my mid-twenties, but I still giggled a little when I had to ask the butcher “Can I please have the second Boston butt on the shelf?”
Anyway. You can read the recipe here at Homesick Texan’s website. The carnitas were delicious, but I have a couple notes to make.
- Because the pork is unseasoned, the pork has a distinct smell. It’s not an unpleasant smell, but I added a few cracks of pepper at the 1 hour mark, and I think that helped. I think swapping out a couple tablespoons of the orange juice for some carrot juice will also help.
- Add a generous amount of water. I found that the water evaporated at an alarming pace, even when I reduced the heat drastically, so I did add more at the 1 hour mark. However, I think it would be best to simply start out with enough water.
- Get a generously marbled piece of pork. Mine was quite fatty, but I still felt that more fat needed to have rendered in order for the pork to caramelize properly. If you aren’t able to find a piece of meat that has enough fat, you should consider adding a bit of bacon lard to your pot, or perhaps some duck fat.
- Place the fatty pieces of pork on the bottom of the pot to help render the fat and prevent sticking.
It’s midnight here, and I’m running some random shows on hulu.com and eating some bacon. I have homework and reading tomorrow… but I needed some time to blow of steam so I baked some pumpkin bran bites and packed them up into little containers and hung them with recipe cards on some of my neighbors’ doors. It might be a little creepy that I was tiptoeing around the halls hanging muffins on doors at midnight, but Santa does it too…. and at least I left little cards!
Pumpkin Bran Bites (adapted from Joy of Baking)
- 1 cup of pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup of greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup of canola oil
- 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup of wheat bran flakes
- 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of baking power
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
- Preheat oven to 400 F
- In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients
- In another large bowl, blend pumpkin, eggs, yogurt, and oil until well blended
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined
- In a mini muffin tin (either lined with paper liners or brushed with oil). Spoon batter into tin
- Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
These muffins are moist, squishy, little bites. I love them!
I’ve been making serious effort to make every single one of my meals at home. Not only is it healthier and cheaper – but the few minutes it takes me to prepare my own meal is a good way to unwind at the end of the day. But, there are those days that you get home late and you have to walk the dog and by the time you get to the kitchen the clock is reading closer to bedtime than dinner time. So a simple and quick recipe is in order… and when you are trying to reduce your wheat intake – toasting a slice of bread is not an option. This recipe is easy. In the time it takes your chops to sizzle, you can get a salad together and silverware on the table and pour a glass of wine.
Smoked Gouda Pork Chop (Kaprise Kitchen original)
- 2 boneless pork chops
- 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup of shredded smoked gouda
- 1/2 teaspoon of mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
- Set your broiler to high
- In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, cheese, and mustard until smooth
- Rinse and pat your pork chops dry. Sprinkle both sides of pepper.
- Place the pork chops on the baking sheet
- Smooth the cheese mixture evenly over the two pork chops.
- Place the baking sheet on the lower shelf of your oven for about 30 minutes, or until the pork has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (see notes).
- Once the minimum internal temperature has been reached, place the sheet on the higher shelf and allow the chops to brown just a bit more.
- Serve over salad with a good white wine. I had mine with spinach salad and a glass of dry pinot gris.
- Connie at OuiChefCook has an excellent post about mayonnaise and instructions on how to make your own here.
- You can substitute the cheese for other variations – I’ve only tried this with aged white cheddar and parmesan. Both work well, but if you try other cheese variations – let me know how it turns out!!
- Suggested internal temperature for meats can be be found here on the USDA website. They say “Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.”