food

Snacks for Summer: Pineapple Salsa and White Bean Dip Recipe

When summer starts to get in full swing, life gets pretty schweaty and the last thing you want to do is turn on a burner in your kitchen. That’s why summer is the best time of year to get crazy with dips, spreads, salsas and relishes. Cold hard flavor bringin’ the heat.

Here are two favs on steady rotation for parties, BBQ’s or just dinnertime on the deck.

raised by design - pineapple salsa with blue corn chips recipe

Pineapple Salsa with Blue Corn Chips

In a medium bowl, toss together the following ingredients:

  • ½ pineapple, diced
  • ½ white onion, minced
  • 1 jalepeño pepper, minced (for a mild salsa, remove the seeds and ribs and use ½ pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or to taste)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pinch of salt
  • cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Serve with blue corn chips. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


 

raised by design - white bean dip recipe

Garlicky Herbed White Bean Dip with Flatbreads

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process until smooth:

  • 1 15 oz. can of white beans (I use cannellini but you can use any white bean)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • cayenne pepper to taste (optional)*
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh herbs (I used dill, mint and parsley for a mediterranean flavor)**

Serve drizzled with olive oil alongside store-bought flatbreads, pita triangles, crackers or crudite.

*You can swap out the cayenne pepper with other spices to change up the flavor. Try cumin for a dip closer to hummus or paprika for a smoky taste.

**Likewise, you can use other combinations of fresh herbs for a variation on the flavor. Rosemary is delicious with the lemon juice and rustic bread. Or try basil and red pepper flakes for an Italian spin.


 

¡Bona Salut! Loveyoubye, Mags

Love + Artichokes

arti-heart

This morning I was paging through my cookbooks to research Easter recipes. My contribution to the table this year is a vegetable side dish and I’m excited to celebrate fresh, spring produce at the holiday table. After months of hearty roasts and root vegetables, I’m always so excited for the bright, crisp flavors of Spring. So I pulled one of my favorites from the shelf: Lydia Bastianich’s Lydia’s Italy in America and quickly found the inspiration I needed.

lidia-cover

Lydia is one of my favorite Italian chefs – her style is so relaxed and approachable and her food is ridiculously delicious – and apparently lusty?!?! (See blurb on cover.) Ummm. Anyway, this book chronicles the broad reach of Italian food throughout the States and I had my copy signed when she spoke a couple years ago at SUNY Purchase. So yeah, I’m a nerd fan.

I’m considering making Lydia’s recipe for Braised Artichokes (Carciofi Brasati). Artichokes are in season in early spring and are perfect on the Easter table. They’re also major crowd pleasers – even folks who don’t like vegetables happily gobble them up.

arti-recipe

But I do have a sweet spot for artichokes, especially this time of year. Tomorrow is our 3-year wedding anniversary (!) and I can’t think about artichokes without being reminded of that happy day. We designed our wedding around the concept of a Mediterranean Spring Harvest. To convey our theme, I chose the artichoke (and rabbit) as design motifs throughout our celebration. I love the beautiful geometric pattern that the artichoke’s leaves make at the crown and the fact that they’re tough and spiky. They’re like roses that ride motorcycles.

Our dear family friend designed our menus, programs and table numbers and we asked her to work artichokes into the menus. (BTW, “Per Cent’Anni” means “for one hundred years.” In Italian-American dialect it’s often exchanged as a toast, pronounced “Chin-Don,” and has also made a nice cameo in a recent Jay-Z song.)

Oh, Darling! Photography

Oh, Darling! Photography

We also decided to use artichokes in lieu of flowers for our centerpieces. I couldn’t deal with the fuss of floral arrangements and I liked the idea of people taking them home to cook and eat. Plus, we really wanted food to be at the center of our family-style celebration and to keep the arrangements low enough for guests to converse across the table.

Oh, Darling! Photography

Oh, Darling! Photography

Oh, Darling! Photography

Oh, Darling! Photography

The artichokes for the centerpieces were a gift from my bridesmaid/best friend’s family, the D’Arrigos. They own a family-run produce business, Andy Boy, which is best known for bringing broccoli rabe to the United States. You would know Andy Boy by their hot pink logo in the produce aisle. Coincidentally, on the page opposite Lydia’s recipe for Braised Artichokes she writes about her visit to the Andy Boy farms in Salinas, CA and talks about the D’Arrigo Family’s history and major contribution to the American food industry. Whaaa! Totally awesome.

darrigo-page

The artichokes were such a hit, they also made several appearances as maracas and rabbit ears in our photo booth:

arti-smilebooth

I love looking back and remembering all of the fun we had that day. We had lots of help from family and friends putting together the event and there’s plenty more to share. In the meantime, I’d better figure out what I’m going to bring to Easter!

Loveyoubye, Maggie

POWER SOUP RECIPE

rbd-kitchen-table

A couple weeks back, in the depths of the coldest winter ever, my mother-in-law shared yet another recipe with me that I’ve fallen in love with.  POWER SOUP.  It’s yummy and it kicks ass inside your body.  The original recipe was in the weekend paper (cute) and with a couple tweaks it’s become a regular in my kitchen.  In fact, James said, “You can make this all the time.”  To which I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes.  Some of you may be so over soup by this time of year and all, “Yay! Pedicures and iced coffee and ponies and ice cream,” but in the Northeast it’s still chilly enough to be cranky, so soup is still on the kitchen table.

POWER SOUP RECIPE:

In a large stockpot or dutch oven sauté 1 chopped onion, 2-3 minced garlic cloves and a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat. Stir in 1 cup farro (or quinoa if you are gluten-free) and 1 can white beans (Cannellini or Navy), drained and rinsed. Add about 6 cups of chicken broth, half of a peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 2 cups, 1-inch pieces) and 1 can whole peeled tomatoes with the juices, tearing into pieces as you add. Note: if you’re using quinoa make your squash cubes a little smaller so they cook at the same rate as the grain.

To season this soup, the recipe calls for a parmesan cheese rind.  If you have hard cheese leftover from a dinner party (like parmesan, gruyere or beemster), whack off the rind and add it to the soup for a major flavor upgrade.  If you don’t live a life that leaves you with delicious gourmet cheese just lying around you can add a few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese to taste.  No biggie.  Similarly, the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, which I absolutely NEVER have on hand.  You can substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme or use a little oregano or parsley which will change the flavor only slightly from the original recipe. Then, if you’re like me, add, “Being the kind of person who has fancy cheese and fresh herbs on deck at all times,” to the heap of unrealistic life aspirations.  Then add salt.

Sim-simmah (simmer) for about 30 minutes, until your farro is cooked and the squash is fork-tender. If you’re using quinoa, adjust the cooking time accordingly (about 20 minutes).  Stir in 3 cups coarsely chopped/torn kale, stiff ribs removed and simmer another couple minutes.  You can also substitute spinach, you just won’t be as bad ass.

That’s it! Discard your cheese rind and serve up your Power Soup with a little extra grated cheese or a drizzle of olive oil. You will instantly feel better about everything and rule the world. (If you’re interested in the specific reasons that this soup is so good for you, see the notes below.)

Loveyoubye! Maggie


 

Ingredient Checklist:

  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup farro (or quinoa)
  • 1 can white beans
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • parmesan cheese rind or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped kale

Health notes:

  • Farro – an unprocessed wheat berry high in fiber, protein and B vitamins
  • White Beans – a legume high in fiber, protein, B vitamins, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and iron
  • Butternut Squash – a winter squash high in fiber, Vitamin A and C and beta-carotene
  • Canned Tomatoes – a vine fruit high in Vitamin C, beta-carotene and the antioxidant lycopene
  • Kale – a cruciferous vegetable high in fiber, Vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene and calcium

 

Eating Well in Charleston, SC

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we just took a couple days off and went down to Charleston, SC last week. It’s been on my list of places to see for a few years and NOW is a great time to visit. Charleston is BLOWING UP right now with awesome restaurants. And when we travel…we eat. Aside from the awesome food scene, the city is brimming with history and you can walk your meal off while admiring charming Georgian architecture, antebellum mansions and scenic plantations. Spring is a good time of year to go, too, at least for Northerners who aren’t used to the extreme humidity of summers.

charleston-3

If you’re planning a trip, I highly recommend making dinner reservations before you roll into town. Most restaurants are poppin’ off so hard that they’re booked for lunch AND dinner. Once you’re in town eating and drinking your faces off, make sure to get your fair share of local oysters, She-Crab soup, pimento cheese, shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, iced tea, coconut cake, chocolate pudding and fried chicken. Here’s a short list of places we were able to check out that I highly recommend.

charleston-4

We also had a heck of a good time at The Cocktail Club, upstairs from The Macintosh. They make awesome cocktails (obvi) and you must order their BACON SPICE POPCORN for $3 (!!) that comes in a giant straw basket. Holy sheet was it good.

We didn’t have enough room in our bellies to hit up these spots, which we’ve heard are also outstanding:

  • Fuel Cantina (in a re-imagined gas station)
  • Two Boroughs Larder
  • Jestine’s
  • Martha Lou’s Kitchen (for the real deal fried chicken)
  • Xiao Bao Biscuit
  • Dixie Supply & Bakery
  • S.N.O.B.
  • Basil Thai Food
  • Aluette’s Cafe
  • The Grocery
  • Prohibition
  • Sugar Bakery

charleston-2Take me back! Who else knows what’s up in Charleston?

Loveyoubye, Mags