Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tuscan Bean Salad #BloggerCLUE

Perfect picnic fare, this delicious salad of kale, cannellini beans, grape tomatoes and canned tuna can be made ahead because it gets better as all the tasty ingredients spend more time together.  Seriously, we had only the tiniest bowl of leftovers so it got lost but my daughter reclaimed it from the refrigerator four days later. Still delicious! How many salads can say that?!

It’s Blogger C.L.U.E. time again, where I am assigned another blog from our group in which to snoop and find a recipe to share that fits the current theme or “clue,” which is Picnic. My favorite part of this process is getting to know my fellow food bloggers because although we have a love of tasty food in common, it’s great to find other commonalities and learn about their interests, work, families and the cities in which they live. This month I spent time getting acquainted with Kate from Kate’s Kitchen.

Kate and her husband recently moved house and I’ve been following that story with interest because, you know, moving is kind of my thing. I know the drill only too well and it amuses me to read other people’s stories of the trials and tribulations of a move. Kate has done it with aplomb, still working in the field of finance, cooking deliciousness and recently posting a fabulous mushroom lasagna roll from under a pile of boxes with scant kitchen equipment. She’s an avid gardener so her recipes often take advantage of that fresh, homegrown bounty. I’m so jealous of the rich soil of Indiana!

So, I needed to hunt for picnic friendly recipes! I love taking salads along to picnics or potlucks so that’s where I started my search. I was spoiled for choice on Kate’s blog, bookmarking her Blueberry Watermelon Salad with mint and lemon, Lana’s Chicken Salad with roasted chicken, grapes and pecans, her Lemon Apricot Salad with lemon curd (!) stirred through it,  Green Bead Salad with Black Beluga Lentils made with tasty sun-dried tomatoes and salami, and Kate’s lovely Blue Cheese Potato Salad with bacon.  I simply couldn’t not make up my mind until I got to the Tuscan Beans with Tuna. Sold! We ate it for dinner with yesterday's Chickpea Moroccan Flatbread.

The couple of minor changes I made:
I was catering for one vegetarian (younger daughter) who isn’t so strict that meat or fish can’t touch her veggies but she didn’t want to eat the actual tuna so I just made little piles of it on top instead of mixing it in. If you want to make this strictly vegetarian, use olive oil instead of the tuna oil. And, obviously, leave off the tuna itself. Kate’s salad called for normal kale, which was on my shopping list, but I couldn’t resist the gorgeous purple kale I came across in my nearby supermarket. Kate adapted this recipe herself from Food Network where they used garlic and cooked the kale. I liked her easy no-cook method but decided to keep the original garlic since we are fans and I totally forgot to buy Italian dressing. Massaging the kale with the oil and vinegar softens it nicely without cooking if you want to serve immediately. Otherwise just mixing everything and leaving it for a while works great too, especially if you are taking it along to a picnic.

3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons white balsamic
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cans (5 oz or 151g each) tuna packed in olive oil
1/2 lb or 225g purple kale (I medium head – bigger or smaller will still work.)
1 15.5 oz or 439g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup or 170g grape tomatoes
3 inner stalks celery with some leaves
3/4 cup or 100g pitted ripe black olives
3.5 oz or 100g roasted red peppers
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop your garlic and put it in a big salad bowl with the vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper while you get on with the rest of the salad. This takes a little of the sharpness off of the garlic.

Cut your little tomatoes in half. Pull the strings off of the celery and chop it into pieces.

Remove the hard stems from your kale and cut the bigger leaves into smaller pieces. Small leaves can be left intact. If you are using thicker dark green kale, slice it finely.

How could I resist?!

Squeeze the tuna oil into the salad bowl with the garlic and vinegar and give it a stir and a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set the tuna aside for later.

Add in the kale and use your hands to massage the dressing into the leaves.

Slice your olives and roasted peppers.

Put everything, including the rinsed cannellini beans, into the bowl with the garlic, vinegar and oil. Toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the tuna and toss again. (Or set it on the top of the salad.)



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Chickpea Moroccan Bread #BreadBakers

Cumin, kalongi and chickpeas add a lovely spicy heartiness to these tender, fluffy flatbreads. They are fabulous on their own or will happily accompany most any savory meal.

I am sure it happens in every family. A new favorite recipe is somehow discovered and is made again and again. Then, over time, it is forgotten until a conversation sparks a memory and you think, “Hey, remember that baked Camembert dish we used to make?”  We loved that dish! And you need to make it again. This month’s Bread Bakers theme, yeasty flatbreads, had that effect on me. I scoured the internet for inspiration and even found several recipes I would have loved to adapt and share, then I suddenly remember this one and had to make it again.

It’s been more than 15 years since Jamie Oliver’s second book, The Naked Chef Takes Off* was published but I still refer to it very occasionally for a couple of recipes, including the one he calls Chickpea Moroccan Flatbread. I have no idea whether actual Moroccans would recognize the recipe or make anything similar but I can tell you that it’s delicious. Over the years I’ve adapted it slightly, sometimes also adding fresh chopped chilies along with the chickpeas, varying the spices or brushing the finished flatbreads with melted butter. I can highly recommend those modifications. This bread is quick to make, needing only one rise, and adapts beautifully to whatever you want to throw in it.

4 cups or 500g strong bread flour plus extra for dusting
1 1/4- 1 1/2 cups or 300-360ml tepid water
1 (1/4 oz or 7g) sachet dried yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup or 130g cooked chickpeas (I use drained and rinsed canned ones most often but you can cook your own.)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kalongi (also know as nigella seeds) Jamie’s version calls for coriander.
1 teaspoon canola or other light oil
1/4 cup or 60g butter, melted and cooled

Combine your yeast and sugar and add in about half a cup or 120ml of the tepid water. Leave to prove while you get on with the recipe. You are looking for the mixture to bubble up and become foamy. If it does not, your yeast is dead. Buy some new yeast and start over.

Mash your chickpeas roughly with a fork. No need to remove the skins.

Add your flour and salt to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.

Pour the yeast mixture into the well. Sprinkle on your cumin and nigella seeds then add in the mashed chickpeas.

Start mixing the flour and chickpeas into the yeasty water in the middle, a little at a time, until you have a sticky dough. Add the rest of the water a little at a time, mixing more flour in as you go, until you have a homogenous dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is stretchy and springy, dusting with a little more flour as necessary. Form the dough into a smooth ball.

Oil the inside of a large bowl with the canola oil and put the dough ball inside. Slash the top with a lame or sharp knife to allow the dough to rise with ease.

Cover it with some cling film or a towel and put it in a warm, draft free place for at least half an hour.

When you are ready to griddle your chickpea flatbreads, punch the risen dough down and cut it into seven or eight pieces.

Start heating your iron griddle or heavy duty skillet and, on a lightly floured surface, roll the first ball out thinly with a rolling pin.

When the griddle is hot, lay the rolled dough on it, being careful not to touch the griddle and burn yourself. Cook on one side until little brown spots and bubbles appear and the dough releases itself from the griddle.

Turn and griddle on the other side until done.

This takes just a couple of minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, roll out the next dough ball into a circle in readiness.

Remove the cooked flatbread to a plate and brush both sides with the melted butter. Keep warm while you cook the rest.

Add the next flatbread to the hot griddle and repeat process until all the flatbreads are cooked and brushed with butter.



Many thanks to our Bread Bakers host this month, Mireille of The Schizo Chef. I am delighted to be making one of my old favorite recipes to share for this fun yeasty flatbread event! Have a look at all the other wonderful flatbreads we’ve got for you today!

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here.

Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Egg Drop Soup #FoodieExtravaganza

This simple nutrition-packed soup is full of the goodness of chicken stock and fragrant ginger with the added flavor and protein of eggs. It’s great as both a starter and a main meal and will cure what ails you.

This month my Foodie Extravaganza group is celebrating the humble egg, a great source of protein in a little self-contained package. Eggs may well be one of the most versatile of all ingredients, working well in savory as well as sweet dishes, adding rise to baked goods, richness to sauces and cohesiveness to mixtures like meatloaves, quiches and nut pies. Many thanks to our host this month, Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm, where hens roam free and the eggs are always fresh!

Eggs, unwashed, can be stored at room temperature because nature protects them with a natural film that keeps out bacteria. Washed eggs, like most of the ones we buy in a grocery store, should be kept in a refrigerator.

Ingredients - Serves four as an appetizer or two for a light dinner
For the soup base
4 cups or 945ml chicken stock (Substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian soup.)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
3-4 spring onions, white bulb ends only

For the egg drop:
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Optional add-ons:
Cooked rice
Corn niblets

To serve:
Soy sauce to taste
Drizzle sesame oil
3-4 spring onions, green tops only
Sprinkle fresh ground black pepper

Slice your ginger into five or six thick pieces. Cut your green onions and separate the mostly green bits from the mostly white bits.

Heat your chicken broth with the ginger over medium heat so it comes to a boil slowly, allowing the ginger time to steep. Once it comes to a boil, turn it down a little, add in the white onion tops and let it gently cook for about 10 minutes.

Fish out the ginger pieces. Make a slurry out of a little cold water and the cornstarch and add it in slowly, while whisking quickly. Cook for a few minutes until the soup starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, whisk your eggs with the teaspoon of cornstarch. Add in the sesame oil and whisk again.

Stir the hot soup to get it moving in a circle and then slowly, slowly add the egg in the smallest stream you can manage, so it starts cooking as soon as it hits the hot broth, making ribbons of egg.

Stop and start the pouring, stirring gently in a circular fashion between pourings and allowing the soup to heat up again, until all the egg is in the pot.

Serve the soup in bowls with soy sauce, sesame oil, a sprinkle of the green onion tops and some freshly ground black pepper.

Additional note:
It’s not traditional at all, but I added in a small can of steamed (not creamed!) corn at the end and served the soup over a little hot cooked rice for an even more filling meal. The photos do not reflect this last minute decision but I can tell you that it was a good one.


Are you a fan of the incredible edible egg? Check out the great egg-centric dishes we have for you today!

Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month. This month we celebrate National Egg Day on June 3rd by serving up egg dishes of all kinds.

Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to participate in the next Foodie Extravaganza, just go to our Facebook page to join. We would love to have you!

Follow our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest board for past events and more deliciousness!