Raw Carrot and Beet Salad with Feta, Mint and Harissa

Good morning and Happy Friday!

Raw Carrot and Beet Salad with Feta, Mint and Harissa

Today, I’m sharing a vibrant raw salad made with purple carrots and beets.  These nutrient-packed vegetables are grated, and then tossed with fresh herbs and a bold citrus-harissa vinaigrette.  After a brief rest in the fridge, the salad is finished with crumbles of salty feta cheese.

Carrots and beets have been showing up regularly in my weekly Specialty Produce Farmers Market Box, so I’ve been trying out all sorts of cooking preparations to use them up.  This method of soaking grated veg in a spicy, acidic dressing is common in Moroccan cuisine.  And it’s brilliant!  The acid in the lemon juice tenderizes the grated beets and carrots while infusing with tons of flavor.  Flavors here include orange, garlic, olive oil, paprika and harissa, a spicy, North African chile paste.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Pecan Butter, Honeycomb and Sea Salt Toast

Good morning and Happy Monday!

Roasted Pecan Butter Toast

Perhaps you are wondering why I am so cheery on a post-Holiday Monday morning.  The reason?  I’m currently enjoying a slice of this Roasted Pecan Butter, Honeycomb and Sea Salt toast.  Crispy, smooth, salty and sweet, this loaded toast starts with a slice of crunchy bread slathered with homemade Roasted Pecan Butter.  Finished with chopped pecans, glistening Maldon salt and dots of sticky honeycomb, this simple-to-prepare breakfast can make any morning a special occasion (especially Mondays!).

I mentioned a homemade Roasted Pecan Butter above, and let. me. tell. you, it’s so easy to make.  All you need is several cups of pecans, sea salt and a food processor (or blender).  As the food processor whirs on, the pecans go from chopped to a paste to a puree to (eventually) a smooth butter.  Finish with sea salt to taste.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Hand Pies

One of the most classic on-the-go eats, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, gets a dessert makeover in this recipe for Peanut Butter & Jelly Hand Pies.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Hand Pies

Stuffed with crunchy peanut butter cream and tangy grape jelly, these golden brown beauties would be a perfect addition to any picnic or afternoon at the beach.  And given that it’s going to be 80+ in San Diego this week, and I’ve got the next 4 days off, I see an afternoon or two at the beach in my very near future.

Luckily, these hand pies are super simple to prepare, so I can easily whip them up as needed.  The key?  Store-bought puff pastry!  Start by swirling together some cream cheese, chunky peanut butter, honey, sugar and milk until fully mixed.  If you can manage to not eat the entire filling with just a spoon, spread some on cut discs of thawed puff pastry.  Ideally, the puff pastry would be made with just butter (Dufour brand), but I’ve also made this recipe with cheaper types of puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm, I’m looking at you), and it turns out just as well.  Next, top each swath of peanut butter filling with a spoonful of grape jelly, then seal the pie closed with another puff pastry disc.  Be sure to crimp the edges all pretty with a fork.  After a quick bake in the oven and a brief rest, you’ll be enjoying these warm, flaky pockets of goodness.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Kale Salad with Miso-Lemon Vinaigrette

Kale is still frequently on the menu at my house, and this Kale Salad with Miso-Lemon Vinaigrette is my latest creation.

Kale Salad with Miso Lemon Vinaigrette

Made with miso, lemon juice, honey, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, this Miso-Lemon Vinaigrette is simple to prepare, but still packed with flavor.  It’s salty.  It’s tart.  It’s bright.   And it’ll make you go “Oh my!” after just one taste.  I’ve paired this bold dressing with an equally full-flavored green: kale.  Prepared like my Raw Kale Salad, the chopped kale gets tossed with several spoonfuls of vinaigrette, then sits for a short while until tender.  A final sprinkling of chopped, roasted pistachios and flaky sea salt add crunch and contrast.

Miso-Lemon Vinaigrette has become one of our weekly standards, because it pairs so well with many other things.  The sauce is on the thinner side, so it packs a big flavor punch without adding too much heft.  I like to drizzle it on all sorts of salads, roasted vegetables and seafood.  Bonus!  The vinaigrette is made with mainly fridge and pantry staples.  You can keep most ingredients on hand, and then pick up fresh lemons as needed.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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How to Cook Rice Like Pasta

Today, I’m going to show you how to cook rice like a chef.

How to Cook Rice Like Pasta

The process is simple really: cook rice like pasta.

First, let’s talk about the more standard method for cooking rice.  You start by adding water and rinsed rice to a pot in a certain ratio depending on what type of rice you are cooking.  Sometimes you add salt and fat to flavor the rice as it cooks.  The water comes up to a boil, you clamp a lid on, and then cook for a specified time period.  The rice soaks up all the water, and you finish with a fork fluff.  Simple enough.

Now, let’s go over the new process.  You fill a large pot with water, and salt it so it tastes like the sea.  Once the water comes up to a boil, you drop any amount of rice in and cook until al dente (soft on the outside, but a little bite left on the inside).  You then drain the rice and return it to the pot over the lowest heat possible.  After flavoring with some fat and additional salt, you let rice rest for a few moments before fluffing and serving.

I’ve been cooking rice using the standard method for over 10 years now, so when I first read about this new technique (new to me) in Cal Peternell’s Twelve Recipes, I was a little skeptical.  But after initial testing, I was all like this.  And now after extensive testing, I can confidently say that I will be cooking rice like pasta all the damn time.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Hard-Boiled Egg Toast with Harissa Butter

I’m keeping things real simple today.

Hard Boiled Egg Toast Harissa Butter

My love for healthy, flavor-packed toast isn’t limited to just avocado variations.  No, my friends, I am equally enthusiastic about the beautiful open-faced sandwich above. Meet: Hard-Boiled Egg Toast.

Now I know the combination of eggs and toast isn’t a novel one, but the addition of Harissa Butter takes these breakfast staples to the next level.  Let me explain.

Harissa Butter is a simple mixture of softened butter, Harissa (a North-African chile paste), lemon juice and salt.  This infused butter gets schmeared on a crusty slice of hot toast then topped with sliced hard-boiled egg, picked parsley leaves, salt and pepper.  The combination of flavors is incredibly satisfying.  I’ve been known to eat a slice or two for lunch or dinner, and sometimes I’ll even throw a fresh salad into the mix.

Not familiar with Harissa?  Check out my recipe here.  I also have a tube of Harissa in my fridge as a backup.  Both are tasty options.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Dark Chocolate Brownies with Pistachios and Easy Salted Caramel Sauce

I’ve got a real treat for you guys today.

Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Brownies with Salted Caramel

Take a moment and just indulge in these deep, dark chocolate brownies.  The delicious mess on top features several layers of rich, salty caramel, grassy shelled pistachios, and glistening flecks of flakey sea salt.  I just love the combination of salty pistachios and bittersweet chocolate.  But if you’re not a pistachio fan, you can definitely substitute in pecans or walnuts.

I’ve actually have another recipe on Kitchen Konfidence for salted caramel sauce.  My 2011 recipe has several additional ingredients and steps that act like training wheels to help a home cook achieve a delicious caramel sauce without worry of burning or texture issues.  My old recipe also has more butter and heavy cream, resulting in a more mellow caramel flavor.  Since then, I’ve had much practice with making caramel at home, and I can now make a perfect sauce with minimal effort and ingredients.  I’m sharing that Easy Salted Caramel Sauce recipe today too.  It’s so fast and comes together in a matter of moments!  Continue reading for the recipes.

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Inventive San Diego Cocktails [with recipe!]

Zymology 21 Cocktails

It’s a well-known fact that San Diego is the craft beer capital of the US, but did you know that our cocktail game is equally on point?  We’ve got bars and restaurants that are making their own flavored syrups, ginger beer, bitters, shrubs and alcohol infusions. Pairing these handcrafted elements with thoughtful flavor combinations results in some seriously inventive and damn tasty cocktails. Below, I teamed up with Expedia Viewfinder to share a variety of libations from 3 hot bars and restaurants in San Diego plus a recipe for an incredible tequila cocktail.

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Porchetta Pork Tenderloin

I have been dying to share this recipe for Porchetta Pork Tenderloin with you guys.

Porchetta Pork Tenderloin

Why?  Because it’s quickly become my new favorite weeknight meal.  With just 10 minutes of prep work and 30 – 40 minutes cook time, this show-stopper entree can turn a boring weeknight dinner into a dazzling pork on pork extravaganza.  And I mean, how bad could that be?

Before we get to this pork-tastic recipe, let’s talk about porchetta in general.  Porchetta, Italian in origin, is traditionally made by stuffing an entire de-boned pig with ground pork (usually offal), and seasonings.  Garlic, rosemary, fennel, salt and pepper are most common.  The pig gets tied up around a spit, and then roasted until the skin is crispy and crackly and the insides are moist and tender.  This Italian specialty has been all the rage here in America over the past several years.  Here’s the porchetta sandwich I had from the People’s Pig in Portland.  And last year, I made a whole porchetta roast for Valentine’s Day (here’s a slice photo)!  Both were seriously tasty.

Traditional porchetta is super labor-intensive, and even the roast I linked to above took some time to prepare.  This Porchetta Pork Tenderloin recipe captures the flavors and textures of it’s traditional counterpart without the hours and hours of prep and cooking.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Cauliflower

Pasta Puttanesca aka pasta in the style of the ladies of the night aka slut’s spaghetti is on the menu today.

Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Cauliflower

If you are unfamiliar with this dish, you may be scratching your head at all this whore talk so early on a Tuesday morning, but let me explain.  Pasta Puttanesca is a classic Italian dish where pasta (spaghetti pictured above) is dressed in a sauce made of tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers and red chile flakes.  Rumor has it that the ladies of the night would simmer this sauce, and let the aroma waft out of their open windows with the intent of luring men into their establishment for the evening.  Others say that this sauce was popular amongst these ladies, because all the ingredients can be stored in the pantry.  No need to go to the market to get fresh ingredients between clients!

Whores aside, let’s talk about this version of Pasta Puttanesca.  There are many aspects of the traditional dish that are very enticing.  Pasta Puttanesca is easy (no pun intended), quick-to-prepare, and can be made with a handful of pantry staples.  Here, I’ve added freshness and substance by way of Roasted Cauliflower, freshly chopped parsley and lemon wedges to finish.  Cauliflower gets wonderfully nutty when roasted, and this flavor pairs nicely with the olives, capers and tomatoes.  Parsley and lemon add fresh hits of green and acid for balance.  Each bite is incredibly satisfying.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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