Thursday, October 30, 2014

Apple, Bacon and Walnut Pita Pizzas

Apple, Bacon and Walnut Pita Pizza. Now THIS is a super quick meal. It comes together in a flash and can be on your taste buds in 10 minutes. Tops. It combines the warm comforting flavors of fall, making you satisfied without leaving you feel like you over did it.

I used freshly picked Rome Beauty apples from our annual Cowie Clan apple picking adventure at Thierbach Orchards. Rome Beauties are a really good cooking apple variety, but certainly any other tart baking apple would work just as well.

As a perfect compliment to the tart apples, I used Kerrygold’s Blarney Castle, a mild, creamy, super-melty cheese. Kerrygold is a top-notch brand of cheese made from the milk of happy cows that graze on grass. Your taste buds will tell ya, this is some darn good cheese.
A few sprigs of woodsy thyme, toasty walnuts, savory Parm and bacon top it all off like a great big warm hug.
until next time...
Apple, Bacon and Walnut Pita Pizzas  (recipe adapted from Cooking Light, October 2014)

4 whole wheat pitas
1 tsp. olive oil
4 ounces Kerrygold Blarney Castle Cheese
2 tart apples, thinly sliced (we used Rome Beauties from Thierbach Orchards, Marthasville, MO)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
2 tsp. fresh thyme
4 applewood-smoked bacon slices, cooked and chopped

1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Broil pitas for 1 minute. Remove from oven, carefully flip pitas over, lightly brush with olive oil. Layer apple and cheese slices on each pita.
3. Sprinkle with Parmesan, walnuts and thyme. Broil 1 to 2 more minutes until golden brown and cheese is melted.
4. Sprinkle with cooked bacon and serve!

Disclosure: I was not compensated for writing this post, but I did receive coupons for Kerrygold products. All of the opinions and commentary are completely my own.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pink-eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and Berbere

The following is a re-enactment of what may, or may not have occurred.

Late at night, lurking in the dark shadows of the pantry, there it was, screaming to come out. Again and again it taunted me, repeatedly chanting, “Use me! USE ME!” I tried to run away and forget the whole frightening thing, but there I stood, frozen with fear. The spell of the Berbere seasoning had been cast and it kept pulling me back.

October’s Recipe Redux theme, “Spooky Spices” challenges members to use a seasoning that we have been afraid to use. I was able to face my fears and use the berbere seasoning in this Pink-eyed Pea with Coconut Milk and Berbere recipe and I am so glad I did.

Berbere is a seasoning used often in Ethiopian cuisine. It is quite an unusual blend of spices including cayenne, garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, allspice, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon and coriander. I was originally afraid it might be too spicy and overpowering but it was not. Instead the seasoning transformed this dish into something out-of-this-world good.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe published in the latest issue of Food & Wine. I swapped the black-eyed peas for pink-eyed peas that I had left over and stored in the freezer after making the 4 Bean Salad in a Cumin Oil and Lime Dressing. I also subbed coconut oil for the butter in the original recipe. And to tame the heat a bit, I used a jalapeno rather than a habanero. If you don’t already have berbere seasoning lurking in the back of your pantry, check out Penzeys Spices.
until next time...

Pink-eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and Berbere

  • 2 cups frozen pink-eyed peas (or black-eyed peas)- ours from DeMange Farm, St. Jabob, IL) 
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 large onion, minced (from our Local Chef CSA box)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 tsp. berbere seasoning (ours from Penzeys Spices)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped (proudly grown in my garden!)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Cooking Directions
  1. Place frozen peas in a bowl, allow to thaw.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large wok or skillet, heat coconut oil. Add onion, ginger, garlic and cook over medium heat until softened and starting to brown, about 7 minutes. 
  3. Add jalapeno and berbere seasoning, and cook, while stirring, about 2 more minutes. 
  4. Add tomatoes, allow to cook a few more minutes, then add the coconut milk and broth. Allow mixture to come to a boil, then lower to simmer and cook until sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add thawed peas to sauce, and cook until heated through, about 5 more minutes.
  6. Top with fresh cilantro and serve.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Puff Pastry Pizza with Arugula Pesto

If you have tasted burrata, you know what I’m talking about when I say it is heaven on a plate. I fell in love with burrata when mistakenly purchasing it instead of a fresh mozzarella ball.

Burrata is mozzarella’s sexy sister. The exterior is typical mozz, but with a soft, silky, luscious cream interior that gently oozes out when cutting into it. Think molten lava cake in cheese form.
We enjoyed this Puff Pastry Pizza with Arugula Pesto as a meal with a side salad, but it would also make a terrific appetizer if cut into squares. Burrata and puff pastry are a bit more decadent and indulgent than I typically use when making meals, but the tomatoes and arugula pesto tilt the meter back to the nutritious side. 

To make a healthier version of this pizza, pita bread (especially whole wheat) could be subbed for the puff pastry, and regular mozzarella could replace the burrata. But then there would be no burrata. And life without burrata is…well, boring.
until next time...

Puff Pastry Pizza with Arugula Pesto (adapted recipe from Rachel Ray Magazine)

  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan (we used Cave Aged Tomme Cheese, Marcoot Jersey Creamery, Greenville, IL)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (ours from Local Chef Heirloom garden at Benne Farm, Weldon Spring, MO)
  • 1 ball burrata, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. To make pesto: in a food processor, combine arugula, Parmesan, oil, vinegar and garlic until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, place puff pastry sheet on parchment lined baking sheet. Pierce with fork. Top with tomatoes and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until puffed and crisp on edges. Top with burrata and pesto to serve.
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