Kitchen Bitch

Cooking in the Kitchen with Sass & Class

Taste of the Tropics: Mango-Black Bean Salad with Lime Vinaigrette January 15, 2013

Mango-Black Bean Salad

Let’s pretend it’s summer, shall we?

Yes, let’s pretend that everyone is wearing short shorts and flowy hi-low hemmed skirts and drinking milk shakes and having backyard BBQs. That it hasn’t rained every day for what seems like weeks and that the sun is really just hiding out behind those ugly gray clouds, waiting to make it’s move.

You see, sometimes, in the deep, dark of winter, I like to make tropical foods to remind me of the warm, sunny days yet to come. Luckily, there are a plethora of tropical fruits to choose from at the supermarket, especially in winter. And since berries and other summer fruits aren’t at their best, I really encourage you to pick up some of those funny-looking fruits—persimmons, kumquats, mangoes, starfruit, dragon fruit, etc.—and give them a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the flavors you’ll find. (more…)

 

Build Your Own Waldorf Salad with Lemon-Honey Dressing April 7, 2011

When I don’t have class three nights a week from 6:30 to 11 p.m. (rough, I know), I like to invite a few of my lady friends over for weeknight dinner parties. I love these dinner parties not only because I get to catch up with my girlfriends, but also because I get to try out (or make up) recipes I wouldn’t get a chance to make otherwise.

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The Best Salad You’ve Never Heard Of January 16, 2011

Fennel-Orange Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

My mom had been talking about taking me to Virgil’s Café for weeks before we finally made it to the small restaurant. “The salad is to die for!” she kept chanting. Now, of all things to rave about on a menu, a salad is probably the last thing in the world anyone would dream of trekking 20 miles to eat at a restaurant, so naturally I was intrigued. Furthermore, Virgil’s is located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Bellevue, Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati, and my mom and I wanted to scout it out as a possible place for Doug and I to live whenever we move back home.

As I expected from my mom’s descriptions, Bellevue was a charmingly eclectic neighborhood, with a variety of independent stores and restaurants that exuded that artsy-but-elegant, hip-but-not-trendy, playful-but-polished vibe you can spot in blossoming art and entrepreneurial communities around the country. I immediately fell in love—I am, of course, the sort of person this area is playing to, and I think it might just be the area where I open my own storefront some day.

Virgil’s sits in the middle of this neighborhood, and most of its cozy dining room overlooks Fairfield Avenue. My mom, sister Annie and I came for brunch, but I can’t even remember what I ordered, just that I didn’t really care for it. Instead, I spent my time eating my sister’s Cubano and the salad my mom couldn’t stop raving about. And she was right: The salad was to die for.

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Cool and Crunchy Cucumber Salad July 21, 2010

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Cool and Crunchy Cucumber Salad

It’s been HOT around the country over the past few weeks, and I’ve got just the thing to cool you down on those scorching summer days. It’s cold. It’s crunchy. It’s healthy. It’s cucumber salad.

Now, I’ve never really cared for cucumbers, but I can’t get enough of this salad. It’s a great accompaniment to a backyard barbeque or a beach picnic, and it’s easy enough to make for a crowd. Besides that, it’s healthy. With only 99 calories and less than 1 gram of fat per serving, it’s beach-bod friendly for all ya’ll watching those waistlines.

This recipe is basically a quick pickle. Vinegar, water and sugar are brought to a boil and then poured over a mixture of cucumbers and onions and mixed with dill. The resulting salad has the brininess of a dill pickle with just a hint of sweetness from the sugar and a sharp bite from the red onion. Serve the salad with a dollop of Greek yogurt on the side as a creamy dip. Just one bite will take you away from the heat and to a cooler, balmier state of mind.

Cool and Crunchy Cucumber Salad
This delicious salad, adapted from JSchamd, is basically a quick pickle. It will keep for several days in the fridge. Serves 8. Click here for a print copy of this recipe.

2-3 English or hothouse seedless cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 c. apple cider vinegar
½ c. water
¾ c. sugar
1-2 Tbs. dried dill, double this amount for fresh dill
Low-fat Greek-style plain yogurt to serve alongside if desired

Prepare marinade. Toss sliced cucumbers and onion together in large bowl or serving dish. Combine vinegar, water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Turn burner on medium high, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Pour hot marinade over the vegetable mixture.

Refrigerate and serve. Stir dill into salad. Cover dish and refrigerate until the salad is chilled, one to two hours. This dish can be served at room temperature, but the salad needs to marinate at least one hour for the flavors to blend.

 

A Summer Classic Made Healthy: Potato Salad July 9, 2010

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Healthy Roasted Potato Salad

No picnic or backyard barbeque would be complete without that one staple side dish all Americans love: potato salad.

Make no mistake about it—I love the original version with its wonderful mayonnaise dressing, but when I’m eating burgers and downing beers, I at least want my side dishes to have some kind of nutritional value. So, rather than slathering my potato salad in mayo and adding only a few choice bits of celery, I’ve skipped the mayo altogether and added a boatload of veggies to make this a potato salad even the most diet-conscious eaters will consume.

To start, I roast my potatoes (and onions) instead of boiling them to bring some brown crunchy goodness to the dish. Then I simply mix the warm potatoes with a variety of great summer veggies: artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, roasted onions, and peppery arugula. Finally, toss it all with a homemade Dijon vinaigrette and you’ve got a potato salad dreams are made of.

Healthy Roasted Potato Salad
Roasting the potatoes instead of boiling them brings flavor complexity to this delicious potato salad. Making a homemade vinaigrette instead of a mayo-based dressing really cuts the calories out of this classic dish. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.

2 lb. red potatoes, diced
1-2 sweet onions, quartered
1 (13 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts
1 stalk celery, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 bell pepper, diced

1 handful baby arugula
Minced fresh chives
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

¼ c. red wine or white balsamic vinegar
1.5 tsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Roast potatoes. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Place potatoes and quartered onions in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, tossing about midway through, until just fork tender. Remove from oven. Cool for 10 minutes.

Prep veggies and make dressing. While potatoes cook, chop other vegetables, except arugula, and put into a large serving bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in extra virgin olive oil, whisking vigorously, until the desired consistency and acidity is reached. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine in serving bowl. Add warm potatoes to serving bowl with other veggies. Toss to combine. Drizzle dressing over and toss to coat. Mix in arugula, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. Potato salad will keep for several days in the fridge.

 

Sunday Supper: Not Your Mother’s Meat Sauce May 20, 2010

Rigatoni alla Bolognese

When Americans think of meat sauce, images of spaghetti slathered in a bland ground beef and Prego sauce often come to mind. Until I tried an authentic Bolognese sauce in a small trattoria in Tuscany, I thought the same thing. And, to be honest, I loved boring old American meat sauce until I tried the Italian version. It’s complex, meaty, creamy and completely satisfying—everything a bowl of pasta should be.

What makes it different? This is a meat sauce with tomato added, not tomato sauce with a sprinkling of meat. Also, the Italian version includes vegetables, lots of them, a splash of red wine, and a good dose of beef stock—all of which make this a multilayered meaty marvel. A little half-and-half and Parmesan added to the sauce at the end of a long, low simmer make this a sinfully luxurious dish. A tube-shaped pasta like rigatoni allows the sauce to really penetrate the nooks and crannies of the pasta for a little meat in every bite.

I serve this with a Caesar salad and crusty Italian bread made with the help of my bread maker. A spicy Chianti Classico can really stand up to the meat in this dish.  You’ll probably need more than one bottle to drink while you’re waiting for the sauce to finish. There’s no better time to drink wine and catch up with friends than around a bubbling pot of the best meat sauce you’ve ever had. Buon appetito!

A Complete Italian Feast

Sugo alla Bolognese
This authentic meat and tomato sauce originates from Bologna, Italy. Any other type of ground meat can be substituted, just make sure it’s high quality. Use a thick-cut egg noodle or tube-shaped pasta with this sauce. I love rigatoni—spaghetti just can’t handle the weight. To save time and energy, chop all your veggies in the food processor instead of by hand. Just don’t over-process. Serves 8-10. This sauce freezes well. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.

3 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 medium carrots, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onion, chopped fine
4 oz. (about 5 strips) good quality-bacon bacon, cut into ½ in. pieces
1 lb. good-quality ground beef
1 lb. Italian sausage, hot or mild, ground or removed from casing
2 Tbs. Italian seasoning
2 (28 oz.) whole peeled canned tomatoes, San Marzano if available
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 Tbs. sugar
1 c. red wine
1½ c. beef broth
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. half-in-half, heavy cream or milk
1 lb. thick-cut egg (like pappardelle) or tube-shaped pasta
S & P to taste
½ c. Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Cook the meat and veggies. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, cook the bacon over medium heat. When it starts to get crispy, drain off half the fat. Add the veggies and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add both meats and sauté until brown. Mix in the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, sugar, and tomato paste, breaking up the tomatoes slightly.

Add liquids and leave to simmer. Stir in the red wine and the beef broth, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1.5-2.5 hours. At this point, the sauce will have thickened and reduced by almost half. Add the half-and-half, salt and pepper, and simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta, add sauce, and garnish. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain in a colander and return to pot over low heat. Ladle in a few cups of Bolognese sauce, stirring to coat the pasta. Add more sauce as desired. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and pour into serving dish. Top with chopped fresh parsley and more Parmesan.

 

A Man Meal Mother’s Day May 6, 2010

The KB's Quiche Lorraine with a Cranberry-Spinach Salad

Mom deserves luxury, especially on Mother’s Day, so why not give it to her? The Kitchen Bitch is here with an impressive but easy brunch menu for the woman we all hold dear to our hearts.

Whip up a Quiche Lorraine for mom, and she’ll completely forget that you trampled her garden last week. A Quiche Lorraine is a French open-faced tart. Traditionally, it’s made with eggs, lots of heavy cream and bacon. To retain its luxurious feel while dropping a few calories, I’ve replaced some of the heavy cream with fat-free half-and-half, and added some nutty and delicious shredded Gruyere to give it a cheesy bite. A frozen piecrust makes putting this together as easy as … well, pie.

Pair the quiche with my Cranberry-Spinach Salad with Honeyed White Balsamic Vinaigrette and a crusty French baguette, and mom might even gloss over the fact that you never sent her a Mother’s Day card. Serve her my Limoncello Mimosas, and she’ll forgive you just about anything. Careful, they’re a bit stronger than traditional mimosas, and they’ll catch up to you when you’re not paying attention—just ask my ma. Happy Mother’s Day!

The KB’s Quiche Lorraine
Frozen piecrusts are available in 2-packs in the fridge or freezer section of the supermarket. Gruyere is a hard, yellow cow’s milk cheese made in the town of Gruyeres, Switzerland. It’s usually nutty and sweet, with a hint of saltiness. It can be found in the specialty cheese section of most markets. This can be served for breakfast, brunch or  dinner. Serves 4 to 6. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.

1 (9 in.) frozen piecrust, thawed according to package directions
½ onion, diced
2/3 c. Gruyere or other Swiss-type cheese, shredded

The KB's Quiche Lorraine

3 slices good-quality, thick-cut bacon
4 eggs
¾ c. fat-free half-and-half
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Heavy pinch of nutmeg
Fresh chopped parsley

Special equipment: pie weights, or a bag of dried beans; 1 10-in. tart pan with a removable bottom or a 9-in. springform pan.

Prepare & blind bake the crust. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. On a lightly floured surface, unroll the thawed piecrust and roll out an extra ½ in. on all sides. Move piecrust to pan and press and form dough to mold. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Line the dough with parchment or tin foil, letting the excess hang over the edge. Fill center of piecrust with pie weights or dried beans. The weights and the holes in the crust prevent it from puffing up on the bottom. Bake the crust for 8 to 9 min. (This is called blind baking.) Remove pan from oven, remove pie weights or beans and foil and bake for 2-3 minutes more, until the crust is very light golden. Unmold the crust from the pan and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If the crust looks like it might break in areas, leave the crust in the pan until after its been filled and baked. Drop the oven to 375˚F.

Prepare the filling. While the crust bakes, heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add a pat of butter, the chopped onion, and a pinch of salt, and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Heat another skillet over medium-high heat. Using scissors, snip the bacon into pieces into the hot skillet. Cook until brown and crispy. Remove from pan onto a paper towel to drain.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper together. Add half-and-half and Gruyere, mix well. Set aside.

Fill the quiche. Sprinkle the onion evenly over the baked crust, followed by the bacon. Pour the egg mixture over top. Bake in the upper third of a 375˚F oven for 25-30 minutes, until the quiche is puffy and brown. Let cool for 3-5 minutes, sprinkle with chopped parsley, cut into wedges, and serve.

Cranberry Spinach Salad with Honeyed White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 4. Regular balsamic can be substituted if white balsamic can’t be found. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.

My Cranberry-Spinach Salad

¼ c. chopped pecans, toasted in a dry skillet for 3-5 minutes
4 c. packed spinach leaves, stemmed and washed
½ tsp. salt
Fresh ground black pepper
¼ c. good-quality extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1.5 tsp. honey
1/3 c. dried cranberries
¼ c. crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese

Make dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice and honey. Slowly pour EVOO into vinegar mixture, whisking vigorously and tasting periodically for desired oil-vinegar ratio. I like my salad dressings on the acidic side, so I stop short of the full ¼ cup of oil.

Arrange salad. Toss spinach with dressing. Top salad with pecans, cranberries and Gorgonzola. Serve immediately.

Limoncello Mimosas
Limoncello is an Italian lemon liquor made mostly in the south of Italy. You can find it in most liquor stores. Serves 6-12. For a print version of this recipe, click here.

Limoncello

1 bottle of chilled Limoncello
1 to 2 bottles of chilled Champagne or sparkling wine, like Prosecco

Fill champagne glass one-third of the way with Limoncello. Fill remaining two-thirds of glass with champagne. Serve immediately.