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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas.jpg

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas.jpg

Easy to make Spiced Roasted Chickpeas are a great alternative to croutons on soup,  delicious for salad toppers, or even a healthy snack travels. If you’re serving appetizers, a bowl of Spiced Roasted Chickpeas will be a hit at any party.

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These spice blends above are part of the P.S. Flavor- Spice Blends collection by Pam Smith. An amazing chef and friend with her own spice blend products. There are so many spiced blends in her collection that would work perfectly for this recipe. One of my favorite blends is called Chili-Lime Spice, I use that on grilled chicken, roasted asparagus, and so much more.

You could also mix your own combination of spices together like I’ve done for this recipe.

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Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Equipment: strainer, paper towels, measuring spoons, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:
5-15 ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried really well
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon reserved for the spice mixture
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Directions:
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place rack in the middle of the oven.
Open the cans of chickpeas. Pour them into a strainer and rinse really well under running water. Next, pat the chickpeas super dry with paper towels. They should look matte and feel dry to the touch. If you’re able, let them air-dry for a few minutes. Remove any loose chickpea skins that come off while drying, but otherwise don’t worry about them.

Divide and spread the chickpeas evenly and in one layer between two rimmed baking sheets. Mix the chili powder, cumin, Kosher salt, and cracked black pepper in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil (about 2 tablespoons per sheet pan) over the chickpeas. Divide and sprinkle 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt over the chickpeas.

Roast the chickpeas for 30 minutes, shaking the pans every 10 minutes. A few chickpeas may pop, that’s okay. The chickpeas are done when they are golden and slightly darkened, dry and crispy on the outside, yet, soft and chewy on the inside. Transfer the hot chickpeas to the spice mixture bowl and toss until all the chickpeas are well coated.

Note: You don’t want to add the spices to chickpeas before cooking. The spices may burn and turn bitter.

Serve while the chickpeas are still warm and crispy. Let them cool completely before storing them in an air-tight container.

Recipe notes:
1). You can use them as a snack,  salad toppers, or on top of soup in place of croutons.

2). P.S. Flavor Spice blends by Pam Smith has a variety of spice- blend choices that will enhance the flavor of any your recipes.

3). Experiment mixing different spices and herbs

 

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A Ladies Luncheon At Lynn’s Home

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My very good friend Lynn asked me if I would have a cooking class/ luncheon at her home. Without hesitation, I said yes! Her home is located in the Historic district of Orlando. This was the perfect place for Lynn and her friends, Marian, Jean, Diane, Gloria, and Sandy to spend some quality time together. I thought it would be a great idea to put a menu together. Show the girls some tips, and cooking techniques that they could take home and use when they’re cooking for their families.

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Earlier in the week, Lynn and I met to iron out all the details. We came up with a plan and set it in motion. Gifts for the girls, a tablescape that would compliment the Italian theme, and then, of course, the menu. The day before the luncheon, I went shopping and found some great seasonal ingredients at the local farmers market in town. I wanted the centerpiece for the table to also echo a few of the ingredients I was using. A large rustic bowl filled with pink grapefruits, lemons, fennel fronds, and fresh bay leaves.

Menu:
Peach Bellinis
Cheese Board, Parmesan, Parmigiano- Reggiano, and Grana Padano
Fennel Salad With Grapefruit, Red Onion and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese garnished with edible flowers
Kale And White Bean Soup
Homemade croutons
Eton Mess By Way Of Italy (menu category -desserts)
Peach And Fresh Mint Iced Tea

I set up a small cheese board filled with shards of different types of Parmesan cheeses. The saltiness of the cheeses paired really well with the cocktail I made. I chose to serve Peach Bellinis  Fresh peach puree mixed with Prosecco sparkling wine, garnished with a strawberry. A traditional cocktail that originated in Venice, Italy.

I went through the steps for each course step by step. The ladies were taking notes which made me feel pretty special. They asked great questions and I think they went away realizing that when you use fresh and seasonal ingredients, cooking can be fun as well as delicious. I want to say that these were some of the sweetest ladies and I hope that we’ll be able to get together again in the near future. Lynn, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to help you with this amazing luncheon.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 to 40 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 2 6-quart Dutch ovens with lids

Recipe For Kale And Cannellini Bean Soup:
Know as Beans And Greens Soup
All ingredients divided evenly into two 6 quart heavy bottom pots

2 bunches of fresh kale, stems and center rib removed coarsely chopped
4 15-ounce cans of white Cannellini beans -drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 stalks of celery diced halved and coarsely chopped
2 large onions coarsely chopped
8 carrots peeled and 1/2 inch diced
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of grated fresh nutmeg
2 Fresno chilis seeded and minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock
8 cups of water (amount of water may vary slightly)
2 2-inch pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt (1 tablespoon per pot)
1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper (1/2 teaspoon per pot)
2 fresh bay leaves ( dried are fine)
2 teaspoons of freshly chopped rosemary leaves
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
*E.V.O.O drizzle (drizzle on top as a finish to the soup)
Accompaniment: homemade croutons

Note: smoked sausage is an option to add to this soup (slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick pieces)

Directions:
Turn the burners to medium-high heat allowing the two heavy bottom pot to heat up. Remember that all the ingredients will be evenly divided into the two pots. Once the pots have come up to temperature, adjust the temperature to medium. Add in the olive oil, diced onions, minced Fresno chili, celery, diced carrots, and tomato paste. Stir all the ingredients together cook until vegetables start to soften, around 10 minutes. Make sure to season as you go by adding Kosher salt, black pepper to taste.

Add the minced garlic, bay leaves, and freshly chopped rosemary leaves continue to stir. About 3 to 5 minutes in, add in the unsalted chicken stock, cheese rinds. Slowly add in the half of the chopped kale leaves to each pot. Using a spoon, start to submerge the leaves into the liquid. Next, slowly add in the water and the rest of the chopped kale. This is the point is where you’ll be able to see if you have enough liquid, (refer to the pictures above) allowing 3 inches of space at the top of each pot.

The kale will wilt as it cooks, and most of the ingredients will also release their water. Not to worry, (cooking soup uncovered) as the soup comes up to a boil, water will also evaporate as the soup cooks. Now, the drained Cannellini beans. Next, it’s time to add the 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and the freshly grated nutmeg to each pot. Stir all the ingredients together. Bring the soup up to a boil, reduce the temperature and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the kale and carrots are tender. Once finished, cover the soup pots until ready to serve.

Serve in porcelain bowls with grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, and a drizzle of good *E.V.O.O.

The dessert you see in the pictures above, “Eton Mess By Way Of Italy”  and “Homemade Croutons” recipes can be found by clicking on the links below.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

 

Eton Mess By Way Of Italy

 

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

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Cabbage Soup

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Cabbage soup has to be one of my very favorites when it comes to food for the soul. I find, if your a fan of stuffed cabbage than you will love this soup. For this soup, I’m using an 8 quart stock pot. This size pot will hold enough liquid and cabbage needed for this recipe. I’m also using Savoy cabbage (green cabbage is fine as well) and a 90% lean ground sirloin which will make for a healthier and better tasting soup.

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Yields, 6 servings
Equipment: 8 quart stock pot
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40-45 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2-1/2 pounds ground sirloin
5 cups of chopped Savoy cabbage ( or green cabbage)
1 cup of diced onions
1 cup of diced carrots
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup of quick cooking rice  (quick cooking rice in a bag)
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock
2 cups of good tomato juice
Home-made croutons for garnish
Grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese for garnish

Directions:
The very first thing I do is to prep all the veggies that will be going into the soup so they will be ready for me when I need them. This includes the onions ,garlic, carrots, and cabbage.

So I just start out with a little olive oil in the bottom of the pot. You need that because the meat is very lean. On med high heat, I add the ground sirloin, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, and start the browning process.  To the ground sirloin, I add in the Kosher salt, black pepper, tomato paste, and some crushed red pepper flakes. Once the meat has browned completely, about 5-7 minutes,

I add in the diced onions and minced garlic. I cook those together letting the onions start to soften, another couple of minutes. Next, the diced carrots, stirring those through. I let all this cook together for another 5 minutes.

With the stove still on med- high heat, I add in the unsalted chicken stock. Once the stock is added, carefully, with my wooden spoon, scrape up any bits that may be stock to the bottom of the pot.  Lowering the heat to medium,  I slowly add in the chopped Savoy cabbage. Using the wooden spoon to push the cabbage down into the liquid.

As the Savoy cabbage softens and has all been submerged into the chicken stock, I add in a cup of quick cooking rice. All that is, is the rice you can buy and cook in the pouch. I just remove it from the pouch and add it right into the pot. I let all this simmer (adjust the heat, if needed, to a slow simmer) for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Finally, the very last ingredient I add is tomato juice. I add that right at the end, stirring it completely through. I then turn the heat off and cover the soup. Letting all those flavors mingle together for about 10 minutes or so before serving. Remove the bay leaves before serving.  I garnish with some home-made Ciabatta croutons and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. You can find my recipe for my homemade croutons very easily. Type, Ciabatta croutons into the “search bar” at the top of my home page.

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Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

Tuscan Sausage, Kale And Potato Soup

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

There is nothing better than Homemade Ciabatta Croutons. Whenever I make croutons, they’re usually made from cutting up a special Artisan bread I bought from my local bakery. Ciabatta bread is my favorite. Specifically the Tuscan garlic loaf. Whole roasted garlic cloves are baked right into the bread.

Let me say this if you love good bread, and you’ve made your own croutons, you’ll never buy the store-bought brand again.

Above are a few of my recipes where I’ve added Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

There are my Tuscan, Chicken, and French onion soups, my Stuffed Acorn Squash, a delicious Panzanella Salad, and finally, my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata.

I think in the future I’ll be making a sweet bread pudding using another variety of  Ciabatta bread. They are just so many recipes that start out with great Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

Let me show you my basic crouton recipe using the Tuscan Garlic Ciabatta.

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So, there are two methods for making great homemade croutons.

The first one is, baking them off on a sheet pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, Kosher salt, and black pepper. You could also get crazy and add some, garlic powder, and maybe even dried herbs. I’d first toss them with the olive oil, Kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper to make sure they’re all coasted nicely. Spread them out evenly in a single layer, on a sheet pan. Bake them off at 350 degrees F., Toss the bread cubes once, until they’re are browned on all sides, about 10-15 minutes.

The second, way I love is to use a large sauté pan. Make sure the recipe doesn’t require more than 4-6 cups of bread cubes. Using butter with olive oil just adds extra flavor to those delightful little cubes of bread. On medium heat, season with Kosher salt and black pepper, tossing frequently, until the bread is evenly toasted and browned. To add even more flavor, while the croutons are still hot, transfer them to a large mixing bowl, add freshly chopped herbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Yields: 4-6 cups (1 loaf of Tuscan garlic Ciabatta)
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
4-6 cups of bread cubes, 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Freshly chopped fresh herbs, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the bread cubes making sure they’re in on layer in the pan. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Toss all the bread cubes around so they absorb the butter and olive oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes without turning. Once a golden brown, on the first side, then toss them again until brown all sides. This takes about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

While the croutons are nice and hot this is the time to add freshly chopped herbs, grated Parmesan cheese, or both. Toss to combine.

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