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Harissa Tortellini

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This is an easy meal to make for a weeknight dinner and if you have any leftover it will be good the next day for lunch, even cold. The cheese-filled tortellini, blanched broccoli, toasted pine nuts, briny olives, and salted feta taste delicious together.  I will definitely be making this again!

slightly adapted from: Super Natural Every Day
serves: 4

1 clove garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons harissa*
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces fresh or frozen cheese-stuffed tortellini or ravioli
8 ounces broccoli florets or broccolini, trimmed into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup pine nuts or pepitas, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
5 or 6 oil-cured olives of your choice, pitted and torn into pieces (I used Niçoise, but black would be good too)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. In the meantime, make the harissa oil. Sprinkle the smashed garlic clove with the salt and chop into a paste. Transfer it to a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice, harissa, and olive oil. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

When the water boils, salt it generously, add the tortellini, and boil until they are cooked through. The best way to determine doneness is to just taste one every minute or so. About 1 minute before the tortellini has finished cooking, add the broccoli to the pot, boil for the remaining time, then drain.

Put the ravioli and broccoli in a large mixing bowl. Toss with a couple spoonfuls of the harissa oil and most of the pine nuts. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Turn out onto a serving platter or serve on individual plates and top with more harissa oil, the remaining pine nuts, the feta, and olives.

*From Tunisia, this fiery sauce is usually made with hot chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil. It can be found in cans or jars in Middle Eastern markets or in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store.

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Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables

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This gorgeous vegetarian (and vegan) meal showcases the sweet flavors of grilled summer vegetables. I love the toothsome bite of al dente Israeli couscous, and it makes a perfect bed for the bright vegetables. I made the full recipe so David and I could have leftovers and it made a ton! I would say it would serve 4 very hungry people for an entrée, but more likely 4-6 people. It paired well for us with a crisp, white wine. -The Jumper Sauvignon Blanc- 2012.

from: Bobby Flay
serves: 4

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 green zucchini, quartered lengthwise
2 yellow zucchini, quartered lengthwise (I substituted small/medium carrots instead, I love grilled carrots!)
6 spears asparagus, trimmed
12 cherry tomatoes (Neither of us like these grilled. I think I’ll leave them raw next time, or omit them.)
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1/4 cup basil chiffonade (stack leaves, roll in a cigar shape and cut crosswise into thin strips)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Israeli couscous
2 cups vegetable stock, heated
Hot water to cover

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In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and garlic, slowly add the olive oil and whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour half of the marinade over the vegetables and let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Preheat the grill. Remove the vegetables from the marinade and grill the vegetables until just cooked through.

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Cut the zucchini and peppers into 1/2-inch pieces, cut the tomatoes in half. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the couscous and toast until lightly golden brown. Cover the couscous with the hot stock and enough hot water to cover the couscous. Bring to a boil and cook until al dente. Drain well. Place in a large serving bowl, add the grilled vegetables and herbs and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature.

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* David and both thought the asparagus was the star of the show. I will definitely be using this marinade for grilled asparagus in the future!

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Yellow Jacket

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This well-balanced cocktail was created by the bartenders at Employees Only, in New York. It’s named for the wasps that swarm around agave farms and tequila distilleries. I took a few liberties with the recipe, but only because I wanted to use what I already had in my cabinet. Until I get yellow chartreuse, I have just been substituting green for any recipes that call for yellow. Partida reposado has notes of oak which is different from Don Julio’s smoky herbal taste. Lastly I was out of lemons so I used an orange peel. The 2 things that remained original to this recipe were the St-Germain and Regan’s orange bitters. It was still quite the cocktail. The flavors played well together and sang on the palate. Cheers!

slightly adapted from: Craft Cocktails
makes: 1 drink

2 ounces Partida Reposado tequila
1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
3/4 ounce yellow chartreuse
1 dash Regan’s orange bitters
lemon or orange twist for garnish

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Place all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add large ice cubes and stir thoroughly. Taste for balance. Slowly strain into a chilled coupe, taking care not to aerate. Garnish and serve.

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Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans

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I think there are 3 kinds of people when it comes to kale. The first, people who don’t like kale. The slightly bitter leaves they would not touch with a 10 foot pole. Secondly, the people who have jumped on the kale bandwagon and openly pretend that they love kale while secretly making the “I’d rather be eating a cheeseburger” face as they eat their kale salad. Thirdly, the people who love the taste of raw kale, simple as that. I fall into the 3rd category. I have never pretended to be a salad fan, (I would rather have a cheeseburger), but I do love salads made with greens that can stand up to everything else in the salad without being limp or soggy after a few minutes (sorry wimpy tasting ice berg, you lose). I realize it’s not for everyone, but when you pair kale with dried fruit, toasted pecans, and homemade honey-Dijon, I believe you might even change the minds of those in category one! Lacinto or Tuscan kale would probably be best in this salad, but I had a huge bunch of curly kale that came in my farm box this week, so curly it was. This salad is delicious by the way.

slightly adapted from: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
serves: 4

salad
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
8 ounces (or 1 bunch) kale, ribs removed
4 radishes, sliced thin
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
2 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled and crumbled

dressing
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Wash the kale and run it through a salad spinner, or dry with paper towels. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the pecans, radish slices, cherries to the bowl with the kale. Sprinkle the goat cheese over top.

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Whisk the dressing ingredients together until emulsified and pour over the salad. Toss the salad until it is evenly coated with the dressing.

This salad can be eaten right away, but it is even better if it sits for 20 minutes. The dressing will tenderize the kale, especially if you are using curly kale.

 

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Chickpea, Farro, and Feta Salad

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I have made many summery salads lately, and this one takes the cake. I have been overrun with produce from my weekly farm box and I can hardly seem to keep up with it. My refrigerator looks like it has been overtaken by a small forest. This was a great recipe to use for the plethora of green beans waiting to be eaten. The salad itself was tasty, but the toasted spice vinaigrette kind of blew my mind. I was grumbling about having to find whole cumin seeds when I had ground cumin in the pantry, but I am so glad I did. Toasting the 3 spices together makes them explode with flavor. It went so well with the toothsome farro, the creamy bite of the feta, the toasted pine nuts and fresh flavors from the fresh dill and lemon juice. I have a good feeling this salad will make it onto many more of our dinner plates. I love farro, but feel free to use barley instead. You could also use quinoa or brown rice as well. And don’t settle for powdered spices for the vinaigrette, use whole seeds-it makes a huge difference!

adapted from: Bon Appétit
serves: 4

8 ounces green beans, halved crosswise
Kosher salt
1 cup pearled farro
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
4 oz. feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

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Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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for the vinaigrette
Toast coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
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Let cool, then chop. Whisk with oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Do Ahead: Vinaigrette can be made 4 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a sieve or a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water.
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Return water to a boil, add farro and simmer until tender (refer to packaging for timing); drain. Spread out and let cool on a baking sheet.

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Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Toast pine nuts, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; let cool.

Toss green beans, barley, pine nuts, chickpeas, feta, dill, lemon juice, and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve.

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Dublin Iced Coffee

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A delectable mix of caffeine, cocktail, and dessert.

from: Bon Appetit
makes: 1 drink

2 ounces strong, cold-brew coffee*
2 ounces stout (I used Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, but you could use Guinness or whatever stout you prefer)
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce heavy cream
cinnamon for garnish (this really made the drink, in my opinion)

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Mix the coffee, stout, whiskey, and simple syrup in a highball glass. Add ice to fill. Gently pour in the heavy cream so it gradually sinks into the coffee; sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir if desired.

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*Cold brew coffee is coarse-ground coffee that is brewed in cold or room temperature water for an extended period of time (usually 12-15 hours). The coffee grounds are then filtered out (using a sieve, then coffee filter) and then it is ready. It is a concentrate, so you then dilute the concentrate with an equal amount of water or milk. It can be used for iced coffee, hot coffee, blended-with-ice coffee drinks, or cocktails. Cold brew coffee has less acidity, so I think it tastes smoother and sweeter. It is amazing… This is the recipe I use for cold brew.

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Classic Mac

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I drooled over this book in a shop in Chicago. A cookbook full of mac & cheese recipes? Where have I been? Now that I know they come from Homeroom, a restaurant in Berkeley, California that specializes in my favorite comfort food- I have a new restaurant to add to my bucket list. It all starts with the perfect base, a creamy béchamel sauce. Then you add all sorts of various goodies for different mac & cheese recipes from Croque Madame Mac to Sriracha Mac to Vegan Mac. This book even has a few recipes for sides and old-school desserts. So basically the best book ever, am I right?

from: Mac & Cheese
serves: 4

mac sauce
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt

1/2 pound dried elbow pasta (don’t use those baby elbows, they fall apart. Go for a large elbow or serpentine, or use penne, rigatoni, or orecchiette)
2 cups mac sauce
1 1/2 cups grated 2 year aged, extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup toasted panko -optional (toast in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned and toasted)

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to make the mac sauce

Heat the milk in a pot over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, but is not boiling, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a separate, heavy-bottomed pot. When the butter has just melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

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Slowly pour the warm milk, about 1 cup at a time, into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. It will get very thick when your first add the milk, and thinner as you slowly pour in the entire 3 cups. This is normal.

Once all the milk has been added, set the pot back over medium-high heat, and continue to whisk constantly. In the next 2 to 3 minutes the sauce should come together and become silky and thick. Use the spoon test to make sure it’s ready.  To do this, dip a metal spoon into the sauce-if the sauce coats the spoon and doesn’t slide off like milk, you’ll know it’s ready. You should be able to run your finger along the spoon and have the impression remain. Add the salt.

The Mac sauce is ready to use immediately and does not need to cool. Store it in the fridge for a day or two if you want to make it ahead of time-it will get a lot thicker when put in the fridge, so it may need a little milk to thin it a bit when it comes time to melt in the cheese. Try melting the cheese into the sauce first, and if it is too thick then add milk as needed.

for the mac

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until a little less than al dente. Drain, rinse the pasta with cold water, and drain it again.

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Add the sauce and both cheeses to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium heat. Stir until the cheese is barely melted, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the cooked pasta, stir, and continue cooking while stirring continuously until the pasta is hot and steaming, another 5 minutes.

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Spoon into bowls and enjoy. You can also top with toasted panko crumbs at this point.

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