Guest Post: Yates Yummies Recipe Challenge — Naptime With Yasmine

Challenge: How many meals can you make from 10 ingredients? Editor’s note: Here in Melbourne, I’m struggling to find new and creative ways to make easy meals on a budget with the same few ingredients I always buy. I love to eat (and eat healthy). The problem is, I don’t really like to cook and I’m […]

via Guest Post: Yates Yummies Recipe Challenge — Naptime With Yasmine

Eating Out in Charleston: A Cautionary Tale

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About a month ago, we spent a few days in Charleston.  I was surprised how much I loved it; the historic neighborhoods have charming architecture and there are so many opportunities to visit historic places such as Fort Sumter and actual plantation sites. I recorded much of our Charleston adventures in a post HERE.  One of the things we love to do when we travel is explore local eateries and discover the dishes a region is known for. Several people, including a high school friend of Roy’s who lives there and  Peg Moore, Chief Culinary Correspondent at the Charleston Mercury (who I was thrilled to meet), gave us suggestions of “must try” restaurants. It makes sense that these same places were also listed high up on Trip Advisor.  For the curious, here is the recommendations we were given:  Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar, Hanks Seafood Restaurant, Hominy Grill, McGrady’s, Magnolias, and SNOB – Slightly, North of Broad. Guess how many of these famed establishments we got to eat at? Just one. Turns out reservations are a pretty big deal! We showed up at Hanks on a Tuesday at 5 pm. after being turned away a few days earlier. Ninety-nine percent of the tables were empty. We were sure we would be able to get in, but were told that the only place we could be seated was on high stools at the large community table. We wondered  if our wind blown look after visiting Fort Sumter had something to do with it as we turned down the offer. Their menu was way too expensive to feel like we were dining at a lunch counter. We wandered down to Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar and luckily got seated right away, tousled look and all! Below are thoughts on the restaurants we did get to try- including Amen Street.  I’ve also included a recipe  from Cook’s Illustrated for an old southern favorite, pimento cheese. So, lesson learned: in a major foodie city like Charleston, make reservations!

Box Car Betty’s

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Yum, yum, yum the fried chicken sandwiches at Box Car Betty’s are delish! Roy ordered the Boxcar and loved it. I had the Chicken & “Not So Waffle” and relished the spicy/salty/sweet flavors. The sandwiches were served on small baking sheets and both had pimento cheese on them, hence the recipe at the end of this post! We also loved the fried pickles and the French fries. The place was once a house, and although not huge, it was cute inside. It filled up quickly and some of the patrons were cadets in uniform from the Citadel. Apparently, there is also a take out option.

Charleston Crab House Seafood Restaurant

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We ate at Charleston Crab House on a Sunday after not being able to get into Hanks or Hominy Grill.  At that point, since we were hungry and it looked decent, we went for it. It got good reviews besides being #35 out of 656 on Trip Advisor and we found the food pretty tasty. I had a cup of the She Crab Soup and a Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwich. Roy enjoyed his Carolina Platter that had crab legs, shrimp, and a crab cake on it.  One thing the venue has going for it, is the roof top seating. Later we learned via our driver on the carriage ride we took, that back in the day, the building was once a brothel.

Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar

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We were impressed by the fact that Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar took us in off the street without a reservation, but the fact that it was just a bit after five probably helped our cause! Our waiter was excellent; he was unhurried while explaining the menu which included a vast selection of oysters that were offered that day. We chose a couple from three different types and they arrived with crackers, lemons, and different sauces. I ordered the Charleston standard, Shrimp and Grits, and found it rich and delicious. Roy opted to have his fish “herb grilled” and he said it was great.

Pimento Cheese Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine – yields three cups

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Ingredients:

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 (4 oz.) jar pimentos

1 (8 oz.) package finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 (8 oz.) Package regular shredded cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

14 (or less) teaspoon cayenne pepper

Procedure:

With an electric mixer, gently combine all ingredients together just until spreadable. Use as a sandwich filling or cracker spread.

So, has anyone else had a similar experience in Charleston? Does anyone have a great Charleston restaurant to recommend?

I’d love to hear about it!

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Reminiscing about Coffee in Spain

 

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On the left above, is one of the several cups of coffee I had the first day I was in Spain; the photo on the right was taken just before heading to the airport to return home.

Just about a year ago, we had a great time visiting Allison in Spain. She was employed by a program that places native English speakers as teachers in secondary schools. During her week of spring vacation, Roy, Jennifer, and I met her in Madrid. We spent a couple days there, drove a rental car to Portugal, and then returned to Spain where we explored Seville, Barcelona, and finally Ibiza. A few weeks ago I woke up to the fact that I hadn’t done much sharing of our trip, so I blogged about Mannequins, Markets, and Tortilla Espanola. Here is my documentation of how I fell in love with  Cafe con Leche and some of the delicious things I ate while sipping it.

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Roy and I flew into Madrid within minutes of when Allison landed there from Ibiza. We had agreed on where to meet ahead of time by using the map on the airport website. I was excited to see her, but also so impressed at her ability to figure out the subway system and guide us to our Airbnb apartment. After dropping off our suitcases, we explored our neighborhood and discovered a little cafe just down the street. It was there that I had my very first Spanish breakfast and cup of coffee. I followed Allison’s lead and ordered Pan Con Tomate ( bread with tomato) and a side of jamon iberico (Spain’s famous ham) just for the fun of it. Basically a DIY deal, it was up to me to slather the grated tomato onto toasted bread which had been rubbed with a little garlic. Then I sprinkled it with coarse salt and drizzled it with olive oil. If that wasn’t delicious enough, I added some of the ham on top and thought it was about the best breakfast I ever had. The cafe con leche was just the thing I needed for my jet lag. It’s made by pouring a shot of espresso into a cup and then filling the rest of it up with warm milk. The designs seen on top are achieved by pouring the milk in second with an experienced steady hand and using a toothpick to coax it into shapes such as hearts. I found coffee made this way so yummy, that I wanted to stop and have a cup of it every chance we got.

Pan con Tomate:

Toasted slices of baguette

1 clove garlic

1 tomato

Olive oil to drizzle

Coarse salt to sprinkle

Optional: Spanish ham or sausage, manchengo cheese

Slice and toast pieces of baguette. Lightly run the garlic clove over the top. Grate the tomato into a bowl, discarding the skin. Slather the tomato pulp on the toast. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Nice additions are the Spanish ham or sausage and manchengo cheese; either can be found in a specialty store or Whole Foods.

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The next day Jennifer joined us and it was her turn to deal with jet lag. A friend of Allison’s had told her about a bar in one of the Madrid neighborhoods that had great food. We took the subway over to it and found it was just a “hole in the wall”, but the food really was delicious. We munched on crusty bread, triangles of manchego cheese, and an impossibly tender meat dish that must have cooked in its perfectly spiced sauce for several hours. I attempted a similar dish in a post written soon after we returned,  Tapas Inspired Braised Meat in Port Wine Sauce . While we were eating lunch, Jennifer ordered a coffee. It was delivered to her as a shot of espresso in a glass. I was surprised, but found out later that serving coffee that way was not uncommon.

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At the tail end of our trip, we ended up in Ibiza. It’s a legendary place for Europe’s rich and famous to frolic, but Allison worked their during the off season and never was fully exposed to how riotous it is reported to be! It seemed pretty tame while we were there, but there was no denying how absolutely breathtaking the raw beauty of the island was. For a sample of Ibiza photos, visit this post on Allison’s entertaining blog Naptime with Yasmine. One afternoon after wandering about, we stopped to watch the sunset and grabbed (of course!) a cup of coffee. We also ordered a slice of Allison’s favorite dessert, Flao. It is sort of like a cheese cake in a pie crust. The version Allison liked best was made from goat cheese and flecked with minced spearmint. Click here for a recipe I found on the web . I’m also going to post a photo of recipe I downloaded from http://www.Ibiza.Travel because I think it might be more authentic to what we sampled. Full disclosure: I have not tried making this yet, but hope to make it for Allison some day!

Flao

Now, a year after our trip, I still drink my coffee with half a cup of warm milk in it. The other half is rarely actual espresso; the majority of the time it’s just regular American coffee. Thank goodness for microwaves – right?

I’d love to hear about anyone else’s coffee traveling experiences – please feel free to comment!

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Mannequins, Markets, and Tortilla Espanola

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Ever feel like life is a roller coaster and every time is starts to slow down, it takes off again? In my case, perhaps a speeding train would be more like it. For the last year or so, I just seem to be headed to one experience after another. Throughout it all, I have enjoyed taking photos, but I haven’t taken the time to pause and do anything with them. Currently, my husband and I are living the dream (O.K. – maybe his dream!) of traveling around the United States in a motor home. Check out our travel blog at Yates RV Adventures. A couple of weeks ago, we were staying at a RV “resort” in Naples, Florida. These parks typically are a mix of prefab homes and recreational vehicles. As I was passing one of the homes, I was startled to see a mannequin guarding the door. My memory was jolted back to another mannequin I had seen when we were in Spain visiting my daughter Allison just several months ago. All of a sudden I realized I had tons of photos and lots of experiences from that trip that I had never shared or done anything with because the train I was on never slowed down. The Spanish mannequin I remembered was looking out onto the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid. It was the first of the many fabulous markets we encountered on that trip. It had booth after booth of beautiful produce, meat, and seafood. Best of all, it had delicious ready made food that could be eaten right there or taken away for a meal at home. One dish every market in Spain had was Tortilla Espanola. This Spanish tortilla is basically a very yummy potato torte and is a common every day food in Spain. A wedge of it could be an entre, or cut in squares and served with aioli, it is often part of a tapas spread. The lady of the house where Allison was staying made it for us one night for supper and I saw how simple and easy it was to make. In this post are photos of some markets we saw on our travels. Below them is a recipe for Tortilla Espanola.

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The classy senorita on the left overlooks the Mercado de San Miguel. The American mannequin on the right surveys the trailer park.

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Above is the beautiful Mercado de San Miguel, a wonderful market in San Miguel Plaza in Madrid.

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This is a shot of my daughter Jennifer walking into a market in Porto, Portugal. Whether they were big or small, these places of commerce offered fresh meat and produce and we thought they were all charming.

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The Mercado de Ribeira in Lisbon, Portugal had the largest food court we had ever seen. The market area was in one side of the building, and the Time Out Food Hall was in the other half.

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Beautiful greens in the famous La Boqueria on La Rambla in Barcelona.

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The Mercat Nou in Ibiza, Spain sold every thing from tea and liquor made from local herbs to their famous salt and honey.

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Of course the market in Ibiza had an offering of take away foods, including a Spanish Tortilla.

Ingredients and Procedure for Tortilla Espanola:

Tortilla

Ingredients for Spanish Tortilla:

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 medium sized onion, peeled and sliced

4 eggs

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon Spanish paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch pepper

pinch saffron (optional)

 

Ingredients for Garlic Lemon Sauce:

1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 clove garlic, put through press or finely minced

pinch Spanish paprika

pinch saffron (optional)

 

Procedure for Spanish tortilla:

In a skillet, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set the onions aside in a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 of olive oil and the sliced potatoes to the pan. Cook, covered, over fairly low heat for 20 to 25 minutes – gently turning over once at 10 minutes. Potatoes will be done when they are easily pierced with a fork but still retain their shape. Carefully remove the potatoes from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the onions in the bowl. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan. Whisk the eggs, salt, paprika, pepper, and saffron together. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and onions. Gently mix the to coat the potatoes and onions. Add the potato mixture to the pan and cook over low heat. As the tortilla slowly sets up, run a rubber spatula along the sides to create a rounded edge. When the tortilla is almost completely firm, remove the pan from the heat. Place a plate on top of the skillet and using pot holders or a kitchen towel to prevent being burned, flip the pan over so that the tortilla is on the plate. Then slide the tortilla off the plate and onto the skillet. Place back on low heat and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate and either cut into slices as a main dish or small squares as part of a tapas spread.

 

Procedure for Garlic Lemon Sauce

Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, and saffron.

 

I’d love to hear anyone else’s experiences with the markets in Spain or Portugal!

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Ottolenghi’s Socca

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Before I figured out that Yotam Ottolenghi was a rock star in the foodie world, I purchased his 2010 (2011 in the U.S.) cookbook Plenty. The gorgeous picture on the cover of Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce was nothing short of magical as were the other photos in the book. However, what turned out to be my favorite recipe was the chickpea pancakes (Socca) with cherry tomatoes shared here.  Ottolenghi gave a little background on the recipe and explained that socca, a batter made from ground chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) is a specialty from the region around Nice, France. I had a package of Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour that had been sitting in my pantry for a couple months. I had bought it out of curiosity since I figured it might be an interesting alternative to wheat flour; now I had the chance to give it a try. The first time I made this recipe, I followed the directions given below exactly and the result was wonderful. Since then – I have to confess – I skip a few steps and the dish is still great. For instance, I’ve just dropped a whole egg into the batter without whipping up the whites and folding them in. And, I’ve just served them straight from the pan, ladling the delicious onion mixture and cherry tomatoes on top of the pancakes without the extra heating in the oven. The dish is still delectable and meets the time constraints of busy family members!

Ingredients for Four Servings:

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling

1 3/4 pounds onions, thinly sliced (I used two medium sized onions)

2 tablespoons thyme leaves (I used 2 teaspoons dried thyme)

Salt & Pepper

1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar (I used plain white vinegar)

1 3/4 cups chickpea flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour)

2 cups water

2 egg whites

Creme fraiche to serve (I used thick Greek yogurt)

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.  If not done already, rinse the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. Spread them cut side up in a small baking dish and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place them in the oven for 25 minutes. At the end of the cooking time they are tender but still hold their shape.

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While the tomatoes are baking, saute the sliced onions on low heat with the olive oil, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. After about 20 minutes they should be soft and starting to turn brown. Add the vinegar and taste to see if they need more salt and pepper.

After taking the tomatoes out of the oven, increase the temperature to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the chickpea flour, water, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to form soft peaks.

Fold the whipped egg whites into the chickpea batter.

Use a slightly oiled, non-stick frying pan, to make the pancakes. Heat up the pan over a medium high burner. Pour in the batter so each pancake is about 5 inches across and about 1/4 of an inch thick. After two minutes, bubbles should appear on the surface. Flip the pancake over and cook for another minute. Then transfer onto a baking sheet lined either with parchment paper or lightly oiled foil. When all the pancakes have been made, place them in the oven for 5 minutes.  Take them out of the oven, divide the onion mixture between each one and spread it from edge to edge. Arrange the tomatoes on top and return the pancakes to the oven for 4 additional minutes. Serve warm with the creme fraiche (or Greek yogurt) on the side.

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Pumpkin Cranberry Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting Filling

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The inspiration for these little seasonal treats came from a post on an awesome blog, Tastes of Lizzy T’s. One night I realized I was supposed to bring some cookies to an event early the next day. It was late and all I had in the house that seemed interesting was a can of pumpkin and white chocolate chips. I Googled the ingredients and was led to the above blog post. What a stroke of good luck! The cookies were delicious, but I couldn’t help but think how great they would be as whoopie pies – especially studded with dried cranberries and filled with cream cheese icing.  I omitted the white chocolate chips and tried my idea out. Roy and Allison both agreed the resulting whoopie pies were yummy! Let me know how your family likes them – I’d love to hear all about it.

Ingredients for about 1 1/2 dozen Pumpkin Cranberry Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting Filling

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For the cookie tops and bottoms:

1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dried cranberries

For the Cream Cheese Frosting Filling

1/4 cup butter

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese

1 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, Beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Mix in the pumpkin puree. Add the spices. Then add the flour, baking soda, and salt and combine well.

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Stir in the dried cranberries so they are distributed evenly throughout the dough.

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Line a baking sheep with parchment paper or foil. (I used the inside of a half pint mason jar lid as a guide to draw circles on the parchment paper.)  Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, drop balls of dough on the on the baking sheet. Then, with the back of a spoon or a knife, flatten and spread the dough out to make circles. (I used the circles I had drawn as a guide.) Bake about 14 minutes or until cookies have firmed up and are starting to brown. Ovens vary, so keep an eye on them. After removing them from the oven, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow them to completely cool.

While they are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting filling.

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Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and vanilla extract until fluffy.

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To assemble each whoopie pie, spread about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese frosting on the flat side of cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down on the filling, on top.

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