Monday, March 10, 2014

Fattoush Salad & Shrimp Curry: Nourish Cookbook Review

Recently, I was contacted by Nourish Books wondering if I'd be interested in reviewing a few of their books.  Even is this age of digital recipes and Pinterest, I am a sucker for cookbooks.  I think there is just something about flipping through their pages and being inspired about cooking delicious food.

I was pleasantly surprised when I received the books.  They are gorgeous!  The two books I received are: Pomegranates & Pine Nuts by Bethany Kehdy (since renamed The Jewelled Kitchen) and The Mighty Spice Express Cookbook by John Gregory-Smith.

The photography in both books is beautiful.  I wanted to eat this corn right off of the pages!

Both books are just packed with wonderful sounding recipes.  I really like the categories that Mighty Spice Express is divided into:  Mighty Bites, Not Quite Lunch, Midweek Lifesavers, Nice & Easy, Something Spectacular, and Naughty But nice.

After looking over both books, I selected two recipes to try.  First up - Fattoush Salad from Pomegranate and Pine Nuts.
Fattoush Salad from Pomegranate & Pine Nuts by Bethany Kehdy
Serves 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes plus making the triangles
- Juice of 1-1/2 lemons
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 7 ounces of mixed greens
- 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
-2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
- small handful of fresh parsley
- 4 teaspoons sumac (I couldn't find so I omitted)
- 5 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- 2/3 cup crumbled feta
- 1 ripe avocado
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon wedges, to serve
For the Toasted Triangles:
- 2 Medium-large loaves Arabic Bread, cut into small triangles
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- sea salt

1.  To make the triangles, heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put the bread triangles on a pizza stone or baking sheet, brush each triangle with olive oil and lightly season with sea salt.  Bake 7 minutes or until they are lightly browned.  Turn halfway through cooking time.  When finished cooking,  remove from oven and set aside.

2.  To make the dressing, put most of the lemon juice and olive oil in a mixing bowl and whisk together.  Adjust the sourness by adding more lemon juice, if you'd like.  Note - the sumac will add a tang to the salad, so it's best to error on the side of caution first and then adjust the zing of the salad once it has all been dressed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
3.  Put the mixed greens, tomatoes, red onions, radishes, cucumber, dill, and parsley in a serving bowl and drizzle the dressing over the mixture.  Toss well, then sprinkle with the sumac, pomegranate seeds, feta, and toasted triangles.
4.  Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out and dice the flesh, then add to the salad and gently toss again.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.  Divide among four bowls and serve with lemon wedges and extra olive oil.

This salad tasted as good as it looks!  I loved it.  The pomegranates were a surprising addition and made this salad special. 

A little about Pomegranates and Pine Nuts from the Nourish website:
“In the Middle East, cooking is a truly intuitive art form …There is a saying that if you run with your senses, especially your sense of smell, that you will find inspiration. It is never about exact measurements, and always about instinct.”
The Jewelled Kitchen takes you on an unforgettable adventure of Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. We are all familiar with a few mezze favorites  -  hummus, falafel, tabbouleh and stuffed vine leaves  -  but Bethany offers up a whole host of other treasures. From Tuna Tartare with Chermoula and Sumac-Scented Chicken Parcels, to Cardamom-Scented Profiteroles and Ma’amoul Shortbread Cookies, here are mouth-watering dishes for you to try. Bethany’s recipes stem from her childhood, as she mixes traditional country fare with cosmopolitan feasts, and adds contemporary twists. In this book she unveils a culinary heritage that is as rich as it is diverse.

For my main course, I decided to make Rita's Tamarind & Coconut Shrimp Curry from the Mighty Spice Express Cookbook.  Originally, the photo in the cookbook and also the fact that it was included in the "Nice & Easy" section of the book is what drew me to this recipe.  Once I started cooking it, I wasn't quite sure what the flavors were all going to taste like together.  If you've followed along for some time, you know that I cook a lot of pasta and Mediterranean inspired recipes.  This curry is definitely different in flavor from what I normally make.  I am happy to report that I loved it!  the flavors were amazing and not overpowering at all.
A few notes about the recipe (from the author):
- If you can't find tamarind paste, just use the juice of one lime in it's place (that's what I did).
- Use chili powder if you can't find dried chilies

- 1¼ cups basmati rice
- 2 onions
- 2 tbsp. peanut oil
- 3 dried red chillies
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1½ cups coconut milk
- 3 tsp tamarind paste
- 1lb 2oz raw, raw shelled jumbo shrimp (with or without tails)
- 1 handful of cilantro leaves- sea salt
1. Cook the rice according to package directions.  Cover the pan with a clean tea towel and then the lid. Leave to one side so that the rice can fluff up ready to eat.
2. Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the onions. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onions. Cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until just turning golden.
3. While the onions cook, chuck the chillies and peppercorns into a spice grinder, and grind into a fine powder. Tip the ground spices into the pan with the cooked onions and add the paprika, turmeric and a good pinch of salt.
4. Mix well, pour in the coconut milk and add the tamarind paste. Mix everything together really well so that the sauce takes on a rich red color. Bring to the boil and add the shrimp. Give them a good stir in the hot sauce, then cover and cook for 5–6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through and beautifully pink.
5. Meanwhile, roughly chop the cilantro. Scatter the coriander over the cooked curry and serve with the rice.
Serves 4.

Oh wow.  I really loved this dish.  And it was so easy to make!  I think the blend of flavors make it seem much more complicated than it was.  I won't hesitate to make this again (along with several other delicious sounding recipes in the book!).

About the author: Spice master’ John Gregory-Smith shows how exciting food – inspired by street stalls all over the world – can be prepared with lightning speed. With inspiration from Asia, South America, North Africa and the Middle East, John has done the thinking for you and created recipes that are full of brilliant time-saving techniques and shortcuts.
Thanks very much to Nourish Books for providing me with these beautiful cookbooks.  I thoroughly enjoyed looking through them and see many new recipes in my future!  You can find Nourish books on Twitter - follow them right here. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Weekend Kitchen: Pasta Puttanesca

Another day, another pasta.  What can I say...pasta is my love language.  I love to cook on the weekends when I have more time to spend cooking, and I'd say 95% of the time, I choose a new pasta to try.  

This recipe comes from the May 2011 issue of Cooking Light {Yikes, I've been holding on to this one for a while...}.  I adapted it, slightly.

- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups canned, peeled tomatoes in juice
-  2 oz. tin of anchovy fillets
- 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish if desired
- 1 tablespoon drained capers
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine or linguine
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Bring six cups of water to a boil

2.  Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add anchovies; mash in pan to form a paste. Stir in tomatoes and next 4 ingredients (through pepper); cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.  When water has boiled, add pasta to water and cook until almost al dente.  When draining pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Add pasta and reserved water to tomato mixture; increasing heat to medium-high.  Cook five minutes or until pasta is al dente, tossing to combine.

4.  Divide pasta among four plates and top each with a drizzle of olive oil, cheese, and if desired, additional parsley.  Dig in and enjoy!

The olives, capers, and anchovies make this pasta incredibly flavorful - I loved it.  If you think you don't like anchovies, or are not interested in cooking with them, I'd recommend that you give them a try.  The flavor they add is so unique and delicious.  The fillets melt right into the oil you would never even know they were in the dish - other than the great, bold flavor!

The story of how this pasta got it's name is an interesting one - read about it here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Winter Wardrobe Staples & My Name Necklace Review

 Recently I was contacted by Sharon of My Name Necklace wondering if I would like to review one of their necklaces.  I selected the Celebrity Monogram Necklace and within a week a lovely little package arrived in the mail for me.
I opened up the box to discover a beautiful necklace.  I was pleasantly surprised at the quality - I don't know what I was expecting, but the necklace has a nice weight to it and feels substantial.  I'm very pleased with the quality.  I selected the 18K gold plated version of the necklace and I really like the look!
Look at that shine!
I've already worn the necklace several times - it works with almost anything!  And who doesn't like their own monogram?  I'm really happy with the necklace, and I wouldn't hesitate to give it as a gift to any of the women in my life.
My Name Necklace is offering readers of 33 Shades of Green a discount coupon.  Just enter code 33SHADES for a 10% discount off of your order.  Just in time for Holiday shopping!
I put together a list of my Winter Wardrobe Staples.
1.  Wool Coat.  A heavy wool coat is an absolute must here in Michigan during the Winter months.  My personal favorite wool coats are J Crew's Double Cloth Lady Day Coats.  The double cloth is made in Italy (bonus!) and the coats are warm & substantial.  One of my J Crew double cloth coats is 5 years old and still looks brand new!  The double cloth really holds up.  Also love how these coats are perfect when you are dressing up and just as great with jeans and boots.
2.  Cardigans.  I love a basic cardigan.  Great for a day at the office or running errands on the weekend.  J Crew Merino Tippi Cardigan.
3.  Jewelry.  Every outfit needs a pretty finishing piece.  Celebrity Monogram Necklace by My Name Necklace.
4.  Skinny Jeans.  In my opinion, an absolute must.  Perfect for tucking into tall boots yet versatile enough to wear with flats on warmer days.  I like the skinny jeans from gap & Banana Republic the best. 

5.  Leather Boots. I live in my boots all  Winter.  Perfect with skinny jeans or leggings.  I'd love this pair from Frye.

6.  Button Downs.  Casual and so easy to wear.  And of course, I love the green.  Shrunken Boyfriend Gingham Flannel Shirt by Gap.

7.  Leather Bag.  An essential piece to any wardrobe.  I think the Bettina Satchel from Banana Republic is gorgeous.

8.  Scarves.  I don't know about you, but it's rare from me to leave the house without a scarf in the Winter.  I love the Metallic Striped Scarf from Target.  What a bargain!

What's your favorite Winter Wardrobe Staple?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekend Kitchen: Pappardelle with Sweet Corn & Gorgonzola

Happy Monday, friends.  I miss blogging - It really feels good to sit down at my computer and write a post!  I keep thinking I'll have more time to blog, but there's been so much to do on our new house.  We are moving in less than 7 weeks(!!!) so I think I may finally have free time and would love to get back to this blog again.
I made this pasta a month or so ago, and I absolutely loved it.  I loved everything about this pasta - the combination of ingredients together is amazing.  This one is a keeper and definitely will be made again.  Maybe not until next summer though, when Michigan sweet corn is in season.
This recipe comes from a very lovely food blog, The Italian Dish.  See her post right here.
I am a huge fan of The Local Epicurean. pasta.  If you are in the Grand Rapids area, make sure to try their pasta for yourself.
- 4 ounces dried pancetta (or bacon as a substitute)
- 8 ounces pasta (I thought pappardelle was perfect for this dish)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ears of sweet corn, cut off the cob
- salt & pepper
- 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- 3 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese crumbles
- 6 scallions, sliced diagonally
- 2 ounces sun dried tomatoes, julienned
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup white wine
1.  Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil for the pasta.
2.  Meanwhile, fry the pancetta in a large sauté pan until just done and crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Do not wipe out the fat from the pan.
3.  Boil the pasta and while it is cooking, make the sauce:
Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the corn and scallions over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.  Season with a little salt (the pancetta will add salt later) and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.  Pour in the wine, cooking for a couple of minutes to let the wine reduce.  Add the cheeses and whisk gently until they are smooth and well incorporated.  Mix in pancetta, basil, parsley and tomatoes.  Taste for salt and add more if needed.  Place a lid on the pan, turn off the heat and let steep for a minute or so.  
Drain the pasta and add to the pan and toss well. 


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