Basil Gazpacho with Homemade Crunchy Croutons

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This is  Helen’s Basil Gazpacho and Crunchy Crouton recipe and it is worth the trouble!  I am not saying you will need to grow your veggies in a garden like Helen’s –  see below – but according to Helen “If you want something good then you have to go to a lot of trouble and that’s just the way it is.”  Helen is an extraordinary cook, gardener, knitter and friend.  Thank you for doing this post with me Helen – now I have one of my favorite Helen creations down on the books.

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The reason you want the croutons to get extra crispy is so they stay crispy once they are put in the Gazpacho. This is the best Gazpacho so get ready!  Helen says “god help you if there are any leftover croutons because you will just sit there eating them.” It is SO true.

INGREDIENTS for Crunchy Croutons

1 day old free form loaf or baguette

3 – 6 T each – butter & olive oil,  – adjust amount depending on the size of the loaf.

s/p

garlic powder

onion powder

dried parsley

OR

use Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning as an alternative to the individual seasonings

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to Bake  300°
  2. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes
  3. Bake for 1 hour
  4. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet on Medium, add toasted bread and toss until well coated in oil and butter
  5. Turn heat to low, add spices and toss
  6. Remove from heat and set aside

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INGREDIENTS for Basil Gazpacho

Serves 4 – 6

INGREDIENTS

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped

4 large or 6 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped with juice

2 garlic cloves minced

1 4 oz jar of pimento, drained

3 cup of vegetable stock

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 c white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

4 tablespoons basil, chopped

  1. Skin tomatoes: submerge tomatoes in hot water for 2 minutes, until skin cracks easily.  Cool and peel.
  2. Chop all the veggies and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add other ingredients and spices.
  4. Blend ingredients with a hand blender (or use a food processor) until you reach the right consistency.
  5. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
  6. Garnish with herbs and Crunchy Croutons and serve chilled.

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Spicy Thai Noodles

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The aroma from this sauce will dance off your stove and have your family investigating the peanutty, sweet smells.  ‘What’s for dinner?‘ is a typical response.  Compliments of The Grit! – an amazing vegetarian fare restaurant in the hip downtown of Athens, GA- these Spicy Thai Noodles are one of my favorite recipes from their cookbook.  My friend, Helen, introduced me to this place a few years ago and it is the kind of food that I sit around all day dreaming about.  Their Thai Noodle Bowl – ‘special of the day’ – had me talking about it for weeks! The list of vegetarian options at The Grit are endless, and each one is mouth-watering good.

I love to make these Noodles for parties – always a crowd pleaser!  Also, it makes the best leftovers in the world and your kids will love them too.

I added a couple of carrots, sliced julienne. I love the color and it compliments the dish well. Also I want to mention that this recipe is not very spicy – my kids love it just like this – but if it were up to me I would add more chili paste, or oil, to turn up the heat on this dish because I love spicy!

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

12 ounces of slender pasta

4 quarts of water

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons chili paste or 1/2 teaspooon chili oil

2 teaspoons granulated garlic, or fresh

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 lime – freshly squeezed

5 green onions

1 cup of snow peas or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 carrots julienne

1/2 cup slivered almonds

PREPARATION

Combine water and salt in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain thoroughly in a large colander, rinse with cool water and drain again; set aside.

Combine all other ingredients except green onions, peas, carrots and almonds in a saucepan and stir well over high heat until gently boiling. Remove from heat. Toss noodles and sauce in a large bowl. Allow to cool slightly. Toss with remaining ingredients cover and refrigerate. Serve well-chilled.

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Adriana’s Beet and Pesto Appetizer

Adriana is a friend, mother of two, photographer, cook, and NYC born local. She loves good food and we always cook when we are together.  We love to float around beautiful markets, talk about yummy things to make, choose special bottles of wine and celebrate into the night.

Since the start of nu-trio, Adriana has been eager to share one of her latest creations.  I couldn’t wait to try it.  Delicious, beautiful, healthy, and seasonal – this is an amazing appetizer!  Thanks, Adriana!

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Beet and Pesto Appetizer

Recipe by Adriana Echavarria

Ingredients:

3 large red beets peeled
*Pesto sauce (homemade recipe below)
Aged goat Cheese
Balsamic Vinegar

Preparation

Boil the beets. Make sure not to over cook them. Beets cook like potatoes – the larger the beet, the longer it will need to boil.   Overcooking the beets will make them lose their flavor and their consistency. Cook until you can easily pierce with a knife. This could take between 15 – 25 minutes. Let them cool.

Once they are room temperature cut them in slices, about a little less than ½ an inch. Three beets should give you approximately 10-12 slices.

After you have cut your slices place them on a serving dish. Beets are beautiful and decorative as well as tasty! Take ¼ teaspoon (I do ½ teaspoon but this might be too much for some) of the pesto and place it in the center of your beet slice. Take a slice of the goat cheese and place it on top of the pesto. Once you have finished decorating your beets drizzle the balsamic vinegar to taste. Ground some pepper and buen provecho!

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basil

Basil Pesto

Recipe by Adriana Echavarria

Ingredients

1 cup of Basil leaves
1 clove of garlic (I use two)
1 tablespoon of pine nuts
1/4 cup of olive oil

Preparation

Place all of the above ingredients into your blender or food processor and pulse until all of the ingredients have been finely minced


Our Kid-Friendly Meal: Louisiana Red Beans and Rice with Cheddar Puff Pastries and Roasted Green Beans

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Our schedules are hectic. Days are full and crazy, but everybody in the family appreciates a hearty, homemade meal, and this “go-to meal” gets all-around approval. We are entering this post into Kitchen Corners’ May Cook-off , which challenged us to “bring it” with our kids’ favorite dish, so we could help moms and dads tackle the hectic job of dinner by sharing a recipe that ensures that the kids are going to smile…and so are they.

Elisa grew up in New Orleans, and if you’re not already excited about this blog, get there, because she has some AMAZING food to share with us all, I kid you not. She recently made the Louisiana favorite, red beans and rice, for a get-together, and not only was it outstanding, it was cool to see all the kids gobble it up and ask for more. This is our kid-friendly, go to meal.
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It’s always a parent’s favorite thing to see some healthy green on their tot’s plate. These roasted green beans have flavor that typical steamed beans can’t match. And just wait until you say the words, “Cheddar Puff Pastries” to your five-year-old and see if their eyes don’t light up like twinkle lights. Elisa showed me how to make these tonight, and I guarantee I will be making them again real soon…because naturally, there are no leftovers.

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They eat it, moms and dads. They really do. Even Harper came in, exhausted from an outing with Nana tonight, having already snacked herself silly, but we fixed her a plate anyway, and I don’t think there was a bean left on it. She’s 14-months-old, people. 14 months.

The trick to pulling this meal off without a hitch is doing enough planning ahead to get your beans soaking. That is pretty simple. After that, your tasks include chopping veggies and simmering. Not. hard. The green beans are absolutely easy, and the cheddar puff pastries, you can make ahead of time. Use canned kidney beans in a pinch. I hope you will have as much fun with this as I did today, and maybe your kids will offer their gratitude with a Justin Bieber dance party after dinner, just like ours did!

LOUISIANA RED BEANS AND RICE

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

INGREDIENTS

1 pound red kidney beans

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 med. onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1 cup celery, chopped

8 cups water

3 cubes vegetable bouillion

2 teaspoons creole seasoning

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

PREPARATION

  • Sautée vegetables (pepper, onion, celery, garlic) in butter in large dutch oven or pot until soft
  • Add the creole seasoning and the thyme and oregano while stirring
  • Add soaked beans* to the pot and add the water, bring to a boil, add bouillion
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 1- 2 hours
  • Serve over cooked rice
* Once you have picked over and rinsed dried beans, place in container and cover with water by 2 inches. Soak in fridge overnight.
 

ROASTED GREEN BEANS

INGREDIENTS

1 pound fresh green beans, washed and snapped

drizzle of olive oil

salt and pepper

garlic powder

PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 450°
  • Drizzle beans with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Roll the green beans to coat.
  • Roast for 10-15 minutes, or until tender
  • Turn oven to Broil, roast another 3-5 minutes until beans develop a bit of a crisp texture on the edges.
 

CHEDDAR CHEESE PUFF PASTRIES

Adapted from the Beechwood Inn‘s recipe for Gourgeres

INGREDIENTS

7 tablespoons of Butter

1 Cup Skim Milk or Water (or a combo of the two)

1 1/4 Cups Flour

1 Tablespoon Sea Salt

Dash of White Pepper

Dash of Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg

4 eggs

1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, grated finely

PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 450°
  • In a medium saucepan, combine butter and milk/water, sugar, salt, white pepper, nutmeg and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add flour, and stir constantly with a strong wooden spoon for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, transfer to a mixing bowl (you can use an electric mixer or by hand) and continue stirring for 30 seconds to allow it to cool slightly. Add in one egg at a time – mixing each one thoroughly.
  • Mix in Cheese
  • Spoon onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper (use 2 oiled spoons for scooping the dough – it will make a perfectly sized puff) and bake for 7-8 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350° and bake for 18-20 minutes more.
 

Spring Market Salsa

Spring Market Salsa

Happy National Strawberry Month!

Here in Rabun Gap, we have a real jewel awakening this time of year. Our local produce market has just opened up, brimming with hundreds of bright, sweet strawberries picked from right out back, daily. I cannot get enough. I’m already a little sad about them trickling down and eventually disappearing in a month or so. But that’s silly. There is much more market-fresh produce to get excited about as the soil warms…

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These strawberries await mouth-watering dessert recipes,  crisp green salads, and buttery jams this month. We thought, however, that we would kick off this juicy sweet month with something a little out-of-the-ordinary for these berries. What about a salsa? Mmmm. Perfect.

Spring Market Salsa and Chip

The thing we played with the most in this recipe was the heat. The strawberries give this salsa a very sweet flavor, and we felt it needed a good bit of heat for balance. Feel free to adjust the heat to your liking; increase or decrease the cayenne as well as the jalapeño, and an additional suggestion would be to add a bit of this hot sauce. Suit yourself.

Grab a cold beer and go outside with this. Your corn chips are going to love it!

SPRING MARKET SALSA

 Adapted, loosely, from Cooking Light

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 C Fresh Strawberries, diced

1- 2 Avocados, diced

3/4 C Chopped Red Onion

1 Medium Yellow Tomato, diced

1 Jalapeño, seeded and chopped small

1/4 C Minced Cilantro

Juice of 2 Limes (about 1/4 C)

2 t Honey (we used orange blossom honey)

1 t Cayenne

* hot sauce to taste, optional

PREPARATION

Combine the first six ingredients (through cilantro) in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, juice the limes, add honey and cayenne. Whisk together until well-combined. Pour over ingredients in medium bowl and stir gently to combine. Enjoy!