The colors of North Carolina aren't any prettier than during summer. Some prefer autumn or spring, but the deep, intentional and romantic green of the kudzu, the transparent mature and lacy leaves of the maple, and the lush bristles of the pine trees all speak in a language of life. It's proof the earth is moving, changing, transforming sunlight and water into the vinous patterns of cellular intelligence. GREEN is just very cool.
As a kid I loved my greens. Although I think I was limited in the number of vegetables that I craved, I know I liked spinach and green beans. Limas were tolerable, and even a sprig of okra crossed my lips during visits to my Grandma on Sunday afternoons. But overall, I ate my veggies.
Are you still at odds with a few greens, that tortured you throughout childhood? I'm willing to bet that many of you put Brussel Sprouts very high on that list and just looking at the above photo is a little conflicting to say the least. But I have a solution. I can turn this bitter orb into a soft and velvety savory triumph. One that tastes like earth and sugar, all carmelized around jeweled raisins and pearlescent pine nuts. You can amaze your friends and neighbors and get a meal packed with nutrition and color. See how easy it is to do!
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Apples and Honey
Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour
4 C Fresh Brussel Sprouts washed, tough outer leaves removed if needed and stems cut off
2 to 3 granny smith apples diced into 1/4 inch cubes. Do not peel
3 T pine nuts
1/2 C golden raisins
3 - 4 T good oliveoil
Salt and Pepper
3 T good, dark honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss brussel sprouts, apples,and raisins with with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay out on large jelly roll pan. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Drizzle honey over all. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until the vegetables have carmelized and are tender. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve!
Add a sweet white balsamic instead of the honey. Use pecans instead of pine nuts.
Recipe ©Copyright, Camine Pappas, 2013. All rights reserved.
The rest of the meal was excellent, too. Take a look!
August has decided to only meet me halfway this year. I enjoy hot, moist, bone baking days. With these facts presented you assume that I'm usually on good terms with August. What I did to her to deserve this kind of treatment, I don't know. We've had the wettest, coolest summer in years. My girlfriends are in heaven; me, not so much.
You're wondering about me already. (But then if you're reading my posts, I'm sure a confused smile has crossed your face many times.) Why would I embrace the soft trickle of sweat off my brown, or the rush of heat that flattens every well teased updo? Because after living in Seattle 8 years, and growing up in the Rockies, I AM TIRED OF BEING COLD. (Yes, I meant to hit the cap lock.)
Okay, Mother Nature is no match for me. Since I'm mostly made up of water, I am certainly not going to try and get in a tiz with her. My only weapon is to combat her mercury-challenged apathy and create an outdoor meal of pretty much cold everything. Aside from the meats grilling happily atop a metal grate, everything during this cold picnic was served chilled. Bright colors, intense flavors and plenty of variety; all presented under the cool trees at a campground on Cane Creek in Union County North Carolina.
Take a look at the 4 recipes below: Cold Pickled Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Chilled Roasted Carrots with Orange Coriander Glaze, Fingerling Potato Salad with Oregano Balsamic Vinaigrette. And we finished with a White Plum Apple Tart.
Aaaaahhhhh. Take that, August!
Pickled Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes
The Farmer's Market offered a bounty of beautiful tomatoes. This basket of gems needed to be behind glass. So that's what I did. The recipe is from PrudentBaby.com. I changed their recipe by adding a pinch of fennel seeds to the brine.
Prep the Tomatoes
Wash your tomatoes and remove the stems.
Poke 2-3 holes through your tomatoes with a skewer. This allows the brine to seep in.
Place the tomatoes in a sterilized jar (simply boil the jar or run through the dishwasher with no soap).
Add some fresh dill on top. You could also add some pearl onions or peppers or whatever you like.
Prepare Your Brine
In a small pot combine the following (adjust seasonings to your taste if you like)
1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
1.5 cups filtered water
2 tbls salt
2 tbls sugar
4-8 garlic cloves, sliced
Pinch dried crushed coriander
A pinch of fennel seeds
Bring the mixture to a boil for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 20 minutes.
Pour the brine into your jars over the tomatoes. It’s enough for about 3, maybe 4 pints depending on how much evaporated and how many tomatoes are stuffed into your jar.
Cover the jar with a sterilized lid and screw your ring on. Put them in the refrigerator and let them sit for at least 24 hours to soak up the goodness. They will last a long time refrigerated, a few months.
Chilled Roasted Carrots with Orange Coriander Glaze
I learned eating cold veggies was a delicacy, from my Southern Grandma. Peeling away the tablecloth hours after the dinner was over, the meal had laid there simply getting better. We would nosh on cold chicken, cornbread, beans and ham and of course carrots. This recipe presents them dressed up and they are luxurious in your mouth. They're like candy, no supper, no healthy snack...wait. They're everything!
· 5 or 5 large carrots washed and cut into long strips (I did not peel these but washed them thoroughly!)
· 1 ½ T olive oil or light oil if you prefer
· Salt and pepper
· ¼ C orange juice
· Zest from one orange
· ½ C simple syrup (I had this premade as I keep some in the fridge at all times – Simple syrup is 1 part water to 1 part sugar. Dissolve in water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then remove from heat and cool to room temp.)
· 1 pinch of salt
· 1t corn starch
· ¼ T cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar
Toss carrots in oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on large baking sheet. Bake in 425 degree oven for 2 minutes. Remove and place in glass bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
Add all liquid ingredients except vinegar for glaze in small saucepan and bring to boil, whisking the whole time. Add the cornstarch and stir until it starts to barely thicken, hardly any evidence of it happening but the mixture should have reduced by about a third. Then add the vinegar. Let it sit on stove for 20 minutes and cool slightly. Stir from time to time.
Toss with carrots, top with small slice of orange for garnish. Place in fridge and serve cold with other picnic foods.
©Copyright, Camine Pappas, 2013. All right reserved.
Fingerling Potato Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette
Fingerlings are these cute, misshapen, pearly colored potatoes. They're sweet, yellow fleshed and stay firm when cooked but still mush in a lovely way for a Potato Salad. However, even here in the south, I run across people who say, "I don't like potato salad. Anything bathed in mayo is not my style."
Good, sit down and grab a fork. I just reinvented your new fave...
4 C Fingerling Potatoes, washed and halved into about ¾ inch pieces (some of the potatoes are very small and don’t need cutting, others are a bit too large and may need to be quartered.)
3 large celery stalks, angle cut
¼ white onions diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ T fresh thyme minced
¼ C fresh lemon juice
¼ C sunflower oil
1 dollop Duke’s mayonnaise
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
2 T sugar (white refined)
½ T cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar (from Olive This! In Charlotte NC)
½ T minced fresh oregano leaves
Boil fingerlings until tender. Drain and shock in cold water. Pat dry and place in bowl. Add the celery, onion, garlic, and fresh thyme. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Chill until ready to serve.
©Copyright, Camine Pappas, 2013. All right reserved.
White and Apple Plum Tart
It hardly weighs anything, the crust is so lite and crunchy. But it packs a mighty big whomp when you have a sweet tooth. We could have served it with ice cream, that would have been the ultimate coup de gras, but I settled for it plain, enjoying the tart zing of the plums and the cinnamon rush at the end.
· 1 sheet of puffed pastry (one square) thawed
· 4 ripe white plums, sliced (no need to peel)
· 2 fuji apples, peeled and diced
· 3 T sugar
· ½ t cinnamon
· ¼ t allspice
· A touch of salt
· ½ t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put pastry on baking parchment paper lined baking sheet dusted with flour. With a knife, trace around the perimeter of the square, about ½ inch inside the edge, and cut without going through the pasty. This makes a nice crust and edge to hold on to. Place in freezer while you assemble fruit. No more than about 6 minutes. Toss fruit and other ingredients together. Place in the middle of the puff pastry, arrange as needed and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
©Copyright, Camine Pappas, 2013. All right reserved.
When I make soup, especially soups with root vegetables, I am usually wrapped in a sweater and peering out at the symphony of color that clings to the trees behind my home. There's bread in the oven, pie on the counter, and a few extra pounds hiding under my mid section. Yes, I'm speaking of autumn. And just like the myth that you can only wear white before labor day, you can, actually, make a root vegetable soup in summer and no one will ever call you crazy.
I've been reading so many recipes about cauliflower, and one of my favorite recipes is irish mashed potatoes which is actually made with half taters and half cauliflower. It's superb. And my mom makes a soup with cauliflower that has a classic mirepoix and is nearly half cream cheese and milk. I've had it roasted which yields the sweetest, most comforting flavor ever, and even deep fried because I live in South Carolina, and if you're not nailed down you'll find yourself breaded and immersed in Canola oil. Certainly there's a way to find something healthy, vibrant and fresh for a warm autumn day that features this white blossom of the produce world?
My family knows when they hear the sound of the lazy-Susan squeak, I'm reaching deep into the cupboards for the soup pan. It's big and vast and has yielded some crowd pleasing creations. They plan accordingly, making sure I am not interrupted until the sweet smell of dinner transforms afternoon into a yearning for supper.
Because one never quite knows how much of this and that will be a part of the finished product, I grabbed a bunch of things. Funny enough, I ended up using them all. If it weren't for the fact that I still had my fuji apple sitting out as a neglected afternoon snack, I may not have thought about adding it. And when I grabbed for the cream cheese, the small remnants of a once large ginger root rolled into view. This in turn prompted me to grab the last bottle of apple beer that I had purchased for a delish apple sangria recipe from a month back and add it too the braising liquid. All of them played a key role in the final, earthy but sweet flavors of my Cauliflower Carrot Apple Cream Soup with Thyme and Ginger.
Cauliflower Carrot Apple Cream Soup with Thyme and Ginger
Cut up all vegetables and apple. Add oil to hot pan and add veggies and apple. Toss and sauté until onions are sweated. Add white wine and continue to cook until fragrant. Add coriander and salt and pepper to taste. Add stock and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add apple beer and then add fresh ginger and fresh thyme. Continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes on low keeping the ingredients moving with a slight boil.
In a small saucepan make the roux, then add the milk, cream and cream cheese. Stir until smooth and thickened. Add little by little to soup, with whisk, and stir until it barely starts to thicken, not very much!
Serve with a garnish of fresh thyme and crusty bread! (And of course, the rest of the white wine!)
©Copyright, Camine Pappas, 2013. All right reserved.
If things were up to me, I would be blogging from a little hut near the ocean, somewhere off the coast of the island of Tortola. Blue waters, white sands, mild warm breezes, and something fruity in my hand. But alas, I come to you from my kitchen in South Carolina, with yet another recipe that helps me live life vicariously through food.
Don't tell me you don't do it either. Anyone who holds a spoon and stirs patiently, or plates a dinner with care, is seeing life through the lens of food.
But enough of my spot on hunches; let's get on with the recipe.
Caribbean Inspired Banana Pecan Bread
THIS RECIPE CAN BE DOUBLED for TWO LOAVES. (Experiment if you're at high altitudes and add more flour as needed.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix bananas, eggs, sugar, shortening, vanilla and rum with electric hand mixer until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and beat a little longer. Batter will be lumpy. Pour into full size loaf pan, well buttered, or greased. Put in center rack of oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, slice and serve.
For peanut butter whipped cream, whip 1/2 C heavy cream until it holds its shape. Then add good vanilla, a pinch of salt, and 2 T creamy peanut butter. continue to mix until right consistency. Put a dollop on each serving. Decorate with small chunks of fresh pineapple and a sprig on mint.
For extra effect, eat while wearing a bathing suit and sunglasses, and listening to Bobby McFerrin music. I know, just don't look at your tummy while eating. Hey, just rest your plate over your navel. This is a cooking blog, not a fashion blog. Enjoy!!!
From time to time, not often enough, I dream of flying. I am able to lift off from a standing position, and attain an obscene altitude with ease, darting in and out of streets, tree tops and even over water. That ability to levitate and defy gravity is exhilarating. Consciousness is great and everything, but the birds kinda have it good. I really hope in my next incarnation I have wings because it's the only way I'll ever be able to achieve flight.
All that has changed since creating my #EtherealFloatingRaspberryCreamParfait. It is levitation in a bowl and will carry you to heights of yumminess. (Note: Calories vanish if you're wearing fairy wings while consuming...just thought you should know.)
To offset the gem-like iridescence of the fruit, I'm sure you noticed the ratio of cream to raspberries, plunging your intentions for low calories pleasure, into oblivion. But from a mouth-feel standpoint, each bite is supremely refreshing, and not heavy. I served it after an earthy meal of slow roasted chicken, with carrots + white miniature potatoes sauteed in a butter, oil and cinnamon pear balsamic glaze, and spring greens with a citrus and thyme vinaigrette. It's darned easy -- to make the dessert, that is. Flying still requires a good pillow and a hankering for bird seed.
Ethereal Floating Raspberry Cream Parfait
INGREDIENTS: - SERVES 4
First reserve 8 berries. They will be the placed on top of the finished dessert as a garnish. Tear off 8 pretty mint leaves for garnish as well, and chop 1/2 a teaspoon of the mint if you're planning on sprinkling it on top.
Take 1 C of the raspberries and place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest, 1 T sugar and 3 T rum. Let sit for 30 minutes. Take the remaining raspberries and place in a flat bottomed bowl. Use a potato masher (yep, worked great for me) to break down the raspberries. You don't want to put them in a food processor because we don't want to puree them, just make them mushy. Set aside.
Now, pour the cream into a large, tall measuring cup (I love my 8 C measuring vessel for this.) Either by hand or with an electric hand mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. (Takes about 3 minutes depending upon the speed of your mixer.) Add the remaining sugar and the vanilla and beat until incorporated and the cream holds it's shape.
SLOWLY and gently fold in the mushed fruit with a spatula. Just use round motions around the outside of the bowl and fold inwards so that the fruit is spread throughout the cream but still very small flecks of some white and fruit are visible.
Now, divide the fruit that has been set aside and spoon it into 4 serving bowls, placing it all over the bottom of the dish. You can use tall parfait glasses or short champagne glasses like it did. Keep all that yummy, flavorful juice, too. Then, spoon the cream mixture over the top, spreading gently around so that it floats on top but doesn't mush down into the whole fruit.
Now top with the mint leaves and the whole berries you set aside at the beginning. Chill until ready to dazzle!
Orange colored tomatoes make anyone look good, and I will certainly take the nods for including it in this easy and yummy summer main course.
Chili Lime Chicken with Orange Tomato Salsa
Yep, that's it. IT WAS FLAT OUT GOOD...!
Braised Artichokes with Butter and Parmesan
So many of my friends and family lately have mentioned that they steer away from making artichokes because it seems so formidable. You can understand why, they're spiny, heavy and really, really firm when you buy them. It's like a green pine cone with attitude. Read on to see how easy and fool proof it can be to serve.
FOLLOW THIS RECIPE: First, find firm chokes with the leaves mostly closed and green. Visually you can see if it looks like it's seen better days. Just pick the one that looks pretty to you.
Wash and cut off the stem right to the base, and about 1 to 1 1/2 inches down from the top, cutting off the upper, smaller and mostly tight leaves. Fill a large pot about 3/4 full of water. Add 1/2 C vermouth, 3 T olive oil, and a little salt. When the water is a rolling boil, place the artichokes in the water.
Now, don't panic when you try and push them under the water. They will float so keeping them submerged won't be possible. Instead, just keep tongs around to kind of turn them over so that at least one side is under the water. Turn every 10 minutes or so. Boil on a low rolling boil, at about medium heat, (just enough to keep the bubbles up and intentional,) for 40-45 minutes. Chokes are done when you pull one of the bottom leaves off and it simply gives easily and comes right out.
Take out of the water and invert to drain. Place on a plate and serve with good old mayo, drawn butter and grated fresh parmiggiano reggiano. I served it with a delicious Yalumba Viogner which brought out the sweetness of the choke and was great with the top notes of savory butter and green ymminess!
The prize is the lovely heart. which is a rush of earthy, tender and amazing softness. When you get to the bottom of all those leaves simply scrape out what looks a little like fur to reveal the heart. (Eat the leaves by inverting the leaf in your mouth and closing your bottom teeth over the meat of the leaf and pull. the soft part with remain in your mouth along with that glistening slather of butter, mayo and cheese that went in with it!!)
Thanks, I appreciate the early warning. That gives me plenty of time to...WAIT! Half an hour? Well, I will just have to improvise. But isn't that when the good stuff happens?
It looks like rice, but it's pasta. And it was at the top of the pasta drawer. That little tomato in the corner? I didn't need it when I made that salad the other night and it is perfectly ripe. Aha! Snow peas, roasted corn, peas, onions...now for the dressing. That bulb of ginger looks fun. And I still have half a lime. Wait, there's some maple syrup in the pantry. DONE.
When sudden company strikes, one must remain calm, collected, and reach for the knife and cutting board. Here's a recipe for 30 Minute Orzo Chicken Salad with Maple Ginger Dressing. And by the way, it was a hit!
30 Minute Orzo Chicken Salad with Maple Ginger Dressing
2 C chicken strip pieces, ready made, cut into chunks. (Or saute fresh ones in a pan with salt and pepper and a bit of soy sauce.)
Cut up all the ingredients. Rinse the frozen veggies, and strain and set aside. Cook the chicken if using raw, in olive oil and drain and set aside. Cook the orzo until al dente, drain and place in large bowl. Add all other ingredients, toss with dressing, serve with crusty ciabatta bread and fuji apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Or do what I did. Set the slices of bread on a cookie sheet, brush with high quality olive oil, a dash of coarse salt, top with a sprinkling of herbs de provence, toast under broiler until browned.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.