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Lemony Chickpea Salad

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I have made a lot of summer salads lately, but they are one of my favorite things to eat when it’s hot outside. This salad has been one of my favorite things to eat for lunch lately. The flavor it yielded was delicious, and it held up well for 3 days.

adapted from: Food + Wine
serves: 6-8

1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 or 4 celery ribs, finely diced
finely shredded zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2-4 tablespoons finely chopped pepperoncini (I love these, but feel free to use less or more according to your tastes)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
crumbled feta cheese (optional)

In a large bowl, soak the red onion in the vinegar for 15 minutes. Drain, discarding the vinegar. Return the onion to the bowl and add the diced celery, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, chopped rosemary, oregano, and pepperoncini. Add the chickpeas and olive oil: season with salt and pepper. Fold in the parsley and serve.

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make ahead: the chickpea salad can be refrigerated overnight. Add the parsley just before serving.

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Spicy Sausage and Heirloom Tomato Salad

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Grilled spicy sausage is just one of those foods that is so satisfying in the summer, especially when one is inclined to dine outside. Here, it is paired with fresh heirloom tomato, hearts of palm, kalamata olives, cilantro, and lime juice. David and I loved it so much I can’t wait to make it again. I think this might become our go-to when asked to bring something to a party or picnic. The combination of flavors is very pleasing-you get smoky, spicy, fresh, citrusy, and salty and it made our mouths happy!

adapted from: Food + Wine
serves: 8

5 Calabrese (Italian hot sausage) or fresh chorizo, or spicy sausage of your choice
1 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks (I prefer to seed them)
one 15-oz can hearts of palm, drained and sliced
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt

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Whiskey Peach Smash

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I apologize for the length of time between this and my last post. I should have been better prepared with something to post from afar, as David and I have kind of been all over the place lately enjoying old friends, new friends, and family from Ohio, Canada, Boston and everywhere in between! Summer is such a fun and busy time that I often let myself get caught up in the whirl while leaving the Ruby Spoon on the back burner. No more! Things have settled down and I’m really excited to make some summery things for the blog. I think some various barbecued meat, fresh fruit, homemade ice cream, and cold drinks should be on the menu now that the temperatures are where they should be. So here’s the first cold drink of the summer-a lovely bourbon smash with the sweetness of good peach jam and honey, and some cooling, fresh mint. The peach bitters was my own personal addition which David and I both felt made it better, but feel free to omit it if you have no peach bitters or do not care for them. This one’s in honor of you, American Pharaoh!

adapted from: Food 52
makes: 1 cocktail

2 ounces bourbon
1 heaping barspoon of peach jam
1 barspoon of honey (I used wild carrot honey)
2 to 3 dashes of peach bitters
1 fat lemon wedge
4-6 mint leaves, plus more for garnish

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Superfood Salad

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from: People Magazine December 29, 2014
serves: 4-6

This is one delicious salad that may seem like a hot mess, but really all comes together in superfood harmony. I absolutely loved it!

1 1/2 cups quinoa (cooked according to package instructions, until al dente, then cooled)
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/3 bunch basil, chopped
1/3 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup dried cherries (no sugar added, preferably)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cups kale, stems removed and chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
drizzle or two of honey, optional
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and honey together until blended, or shake together in a squeeze bottle.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

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S’more Style Chocolate Whiskey Pudding

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from:  Baked Elements
makes: 6 to 8 servings

Pudding may seem like an old-fashioned dessert, or a snack for a child’s lunchbox, but pudding is a delicious dessert in its own right. It is one of the easiest desserts to make, it’s soul-satisfying, and you can pop one out of the fridge when you’re in the mood for something sweet. This rich and decadent pudding recipe from one of my beloved Baked books is a crowd pleaser for sure. Creamy, dark chocolate pudding with a toasted graham cracker layer and toasted marshmallow-like topping- S’more in a glass anyone?

GF option: substitute gluten-free graham crackers, like Kinnikinnick S’moreables. Their conisistency is closer to shortbread, but they taste like grahams and work well in this recipe.

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4 1/2 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken
1 ounce (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

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1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks (refrigerate two of the whites for the marshmallow topping)
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, (60-72 %) coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons good-quality whiskey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

whiskey marshmallow topping

2 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/4 teaspoons good-quality whiskey

make the graham cracker layer

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the graham crackers, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Turn the crumbs out onto the prepared baking sheet, spread to form an even layer, and bake, stirring once, until the crumbs are crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

make the chocolate whiskey pudding

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Add the egg yolks and whisk to blend (the mixture will resemble wet sand). Gradually whisk in the milk, then the cream. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, remove from the heat, and continue to whisk for 15 seconds to release excess heat. Add the chocolate, whiskey, and butter; whisk until the chocolate and butter are melted and the mixture is smooth. Let the pudding cool slightly, about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Spoon 1/3 cup pudding into each of six (small and wide or sundae-like) glasses; smooth out the tops. Divide the graham cracker mixture equally among the glasses, sprinkling it on top of the pudding. Top each glass with another 1/3 cup pudding; smooth out the tops. Cover each glass with plastic wrap, making sure to press the plastic directly onto the pudding surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours, until ready to serve.

make the whiskey marshmallow topping

In the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites, sugar, 1/4 cup water, corn syrup and whiskey. Set the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture over a saucepan of simmering water. Using a hand whisk, whisk the mixture constantly until an instant read thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 160 degrees F, about 6 minutes. Return the bowl to the standing mixer (still fitted with the whisk attachment) and beat on high speed until the marshmallow topping forms stiff peaks, about 6 minutes.

Top each chilled pudding with 2 large spoonfuls of marshmallow topping, covering the top of the pudding completely and creating peaks, if desired.

Use a torch (a kitchen torch is fine, but I prefer my BernzOmatic torch which you can find in any hardware store. The flame produces browning quickly whereas kitchen torches take much longer.) to toast the topping to your liking. Serve immediately.

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Tagliatelle with Shrimp, Clams, and White Wine Sauce

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Sometimes one is in the mood for a nice pasta with white wine sauce and seafood. David and I were in such a mood the other night, and this lovely pasta dish from Giada de Laurentiis was just the thing we were craving. This is one of those dishes that is easy to tweak to your own preferences. You can choose the type of noodle, the type of white wine, the seafood (I think pan-seared scallops would be delicious in here), a sprinkling of pepper flakes at the end, you get the idea.

* Gluten-Free option– I must tell you about Jovial Gluten-Free pasta. Having had pretty nasty GF pastas in the past that turned mushy & gummy before I could blink an eye, this pasta brand is in my opinion your best choice for GF pasta. I was very pleasantly surprised. The pasta turned a perfect al dente while still maintaining it’s shape and it tasted pretty darn close to regular wheat pasta. But just like any pasta (especially gluten-free noodles) don’t let them go beyond al dente, or they get mushy. I used Jovial Tagliatelle which is made with 100% whole grain brown rice which I found at Whole Foods. They also have other pastas that would be great in this recipe like spaghetti and capellini.

adapted from: Giada de Laurentiis
serves: 4-6

1 pound tagliatelle pasta, or pasta of choice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2-3/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes ( I don’t love these, so I used closer to 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cup Pinot Grigio (or other white wine)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 pounds clams, washed multiple times in fresh water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls arugula
shaved or grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to taste (optional)

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until tender but not brown. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another minute. Add the wine, shrimp, and clams. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the shrimp are pink and the clams have opened, about 7 minutes. Toss any clams that did not open.

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Add the pasta to the seafood mixture. Add the salt and pepper, parmesan cheese if using, and stir to combine. Add the arugula. Stir gently and place on a serving platter. Serve immediately. Top with additional parmesan if desired.

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Kentucky Special

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I’m sorry to tell you my friends, I just had no time this week to make a mint julep for the upcoming Kentucky Derby. I even got my first pretty julep cup and all, but time just seemed to slip through my fingers- not a bad thing when the busy week has been fun and full of friends. Next year though, I promise. The pretty julep cup will be filled with sweet bourbon, a mountain of cracked ice, and handfuls of fragrant mint. If however, you are looking for a fun drink for derby time, let me introduce you to this lovely cocktail. It has the required spirit of bourbon, and sweet smokiness from cherry Heering infused with Lapsang Souchang. Lapsang Souchong is a tea whose leaves have been smoked-dried over a pinewood fire. I’m typically not one for smoky drinks, I have no affinity for mezcal and things of that nature, but this gently infused liqueur works perfectly for me in this case. Just a faint wisp of smoke. I have loose-leaf lapsang souchong and I estimated 2 grams was close to the equivalent of a teabag. I plan on doubling that next time to concentrate the flavor even more. It may not be a mint julep, but it is a lovely version of an old fashioned and one pretty fantastic derby cocktail.

slightly adapted from: Food + Wine
serves: 1

1 Lapsang Souchang teabag or about 2 grams of loose (a scant 1 tablespoon) for more flavor, use 2 teabags or 4-5 grams
6 ounces Heering Cherry Liqueur
ice
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1 dash Angostura bitters
2 brandied cherries skewered on a pick, flaky sea salt, and a lemon twist, for garnish
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 In a glass combine the tea leaves (or teabag) and cherry Heering and steep for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, either press the extra liquid from the teabag, or use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the tea leaves out of the cherry Heering. Each cocktail only calls for 1/2 ounce, so store the leftover Heering in a glass jar at room temperature for up to 1 month.

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Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with ice. Add the bourbon, bitters, and 1/2 ounce of the infused Heering; stir well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Dust the skewered cherries with salt. Garnish with the cherries and lemon twist.

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