When Angie and I were in Round Top, we noticed several groups of women walking around snacking on crackers. Angie said she thought she knew what they were…some type of cracker with red pepper flakes and seasonings.
We have a big Easter block party and bring lots of fun snacks to share. I googled “saltines with red pepper flakes” and this recipe popped up:
1 box multi grain crackers
1 cup light oil
1 packed Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
1 t garlic powder
1 t red pepper flakes
Mix the seasonings and oil:
Toss in the crackers and toss…toss…toss.
Let the crackers and oil mixture sit for several hours to soak up. And toss crackers occasionally too.
I made these the day before and 3/4 of the crackers were gone before the party. That’s how yummy they are!
This is a simple dish that’s light and refreshing. It’s a great summer dish or light side dish when you have a heavy meal planned. It simply consists of tomatoes, mozzarella (you can see how to make Dave’s homemade mozzarella here), basil and dipping oil.
The dipping oil is drizzled on can be made with whatever herbs and seasonings are currently in your pantry and fridge. Dill, Italian seasoning blends, a little balsamic, etc…
Dave makes his homemade dipping sauce with olive oil, basil, pine nuts and garlic. There’s no science to it. Just fill a bottle with olive oil and load in some herbs and seasonings. It’s a sure thing and you can’t go wrong!
Let the olive oil and herbs sit a few days so the flavors infuse and the basil gets soft. Make sure to keep the bottle closed so that dust and other particles don’t get inside. The dipping oil is versatile and can be used for other things as well like cooking and dipping bread! I use mine to scramble egg whites in the morning. It adds flavor as opposed to plain olive oil and is a healthier alternative to butter or other oils.
Layer the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and drizzle on some dipping oil allowing the herbs to flow out with the oil.
That’s it! Simple huh?
Round Top Antique Fair was a BLAST! Carrie and I had so much fun and we got some great deals!! I think we are becoming bargaining pros!
However all that walking in the dusty roads and sun…and driving 2.5 hours in the morning and again in the evening really wore me out. I’m not gonna lie – I completely slept in later than normal and was dragging behind all day yesterday. I think I am still dragging behind today. We’ll have pictures up soon so you can see all the things we saw and experience in Round Top / Warrenton – I promise!
The Dave Cooking Series has not ended yet!! There are still quite a few recipes and cooking tips to share from my recent visit with Dave Young in Los Angeles. If you follow our blog, you know Dave and I became best friends when we lived in Los Angeles and Dave also owns an elite event planning and catering company in Hollywood.
(Dave and I at one of Dave’s events October 2011, Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills)
When Dave and I met, we developed a strong friendship immediately. He is one of the most special people I’ve ever met and I’m so fortunate to have him in my life. Now that I live in San Antonio I don’t get to see Dave often and miss him terribly. One of the things I admire most about Dave is that he is a self taught chef. He’s had no formal training yet he works magic in the kitchen and he’s constantly experimenting with new ideas and cooking methods.
Dave is also Italian and can cook some crazy good Italian food. We are talking blow your mind homemade pasta like lobster stuffed ravioli (which I should try to share with you soon – I think I might have some old pics and recipes Dave gave me before). Dave’s grandmother taught him how to make authentic Italian food and he has fond memories spending time with her in the kitchen making Italian cookies and hanging handmade pasta out on the clothes line to dry.
Dave makes everything he can homemade including cheese. He spent some time with me demonstrating how to make mozzarella cheese which I’ll share with you now!
If you haven’t ever made mozzarella cheese before, Dave recommends buying a basic cheese making kit online like this one by Ricki’s.
The reason this is advised is due to the face that locating things like rennet in groceries stores can be quite difficult. Ricki’s cheese making kit is a cost effective option at $24.95 and includes quite a bit of supplies and even includes a cooking thermometer. The kit makes at least 40 batches of cheese and includes a recipe book for more types of cheese.
So here is what I learned about mozzarella with Dave. I found mozzarella is very easy to make but it’s easier to see with pictures than to just read a recipe. Because of that, there are lots of pictures and even some videos I took of Dave in action so you too can master your very own mozzarella.
1 gallon of organic milk (cheese will not form with ultra-pasteurized milk. It must be pasteurized at low temperatures or raw to make cheese. Cream-topped milk works well and can usually be found at local farmers’ markets.)
1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid
1/4 tablet of vegetable rennet
Cheese salt or sea salt
Start with the rennet tablets by dissolving in 1/4 cup of water. If you use the Ricki’s kit, 1/4 tablet makes one batch of mozzarella.
Dissolve citric acid separately (in 1/2 cup water) also until both citric acid and rennet are completely dissolved.
Pour milk into a stainless steel pot, and put the burner on low. Use good milk for better tasting cheese. Organic whole D is best – you will taste the difference.
Stir in citric acid, and slowly heat the milk to 95F. Turn the heat off and pour in the dissolved rennet.
Stir continuously for exactly 30 seconds.
Cover with lid and let the milk sit completely still for five minutes.
At this point, the curds will separate from the whey. Run a sharp knife through the curds horizontally and vertically into one inch cubes. Be sure to cut all the way to the bottom of the pot.
It should look like squares of curds with whey floating in between. (If looking closely at the above pictures, squares can be seen). Lightly agitate and curds can be seen.
Raise curd temperature to 115 degrees. Once raised, use a spoon strainer (with a fine mesh) and scoop the curds into a large glass bowl. (Dave uses a spoon strainer because a cheese cloth is very messy and hard to clean. A few curds might be lost but it’s a much easier method).
Drain as much of the whey as possible.
To form the cheese put cheese curds in bowl and microwave on high for one minute. Remove and drain more of the whey, pressing down on the cheese with your hands to remove as much possible. Microwave again for 30 seconds, and again drain the whey.
Start kneading the cheese until it comes together like dough. While you’re kneading, add a generous pinch of salt. If the cheese isn’t coming together, microwave again for 30 seconds, and again drain the whey. When you can form a ball, shape the cheese with your hands until the outside is smooth and shiny.
Let the cheese sit in a bowl full of ice water to chill.
Once mozzarella was chilled, Dave used in a Caprese salad with homemade dipping oil. I’ll show you those recipes next Wednesday so stay tuned!
To read more about Dave, check out Dave’s blog here. You will find updates on all his Hollywood parties and inspiration for party and cooking ideas.
This last week I was in Los Angeles for coffee training and to visit the coffee roasters we are going to use in our new coffee shop. It was a nice change because for once in a long time, we actually got to feel like things were progressing for the coffee shop. The last few months in San Antonio, things have been at a standstill dealing with the city trying obtain permits needed for construction. We still have not been able to start any construction work at the new retail location and it sometimes feels like it will never happen –which is quite depressing and stressful since we have a lot of money and time invested in this endeavor. I am sorry I have not been blogging much. Life has seemed so gloomy and with all the coffee shop stress and it’s been hard to find time to blog about decorating inspiration. :( I know things will get better — I just hope it happens soon.
Los Angeles was a much needed get away and a very positive experience. I got to spend quite a bit of time with my best friend there, Dave Young, who own’s Dave’s Catering. Dave’s Catering is an innovative catering company in Hollywood that puts on spectacular events including celebrity dinners, parties and weddings. Dave started Dave’s Catering 4 years ago when I first met him and it’s inspiring to see how much it’s grown since inception. Even since I last moved from Los Angeles 7 months ago, Dave’s Catering has progressed exponentially including having more than 30 events during December!! 30 parties in one month is insane!! I am so happy for Dave because he’s a risk taker and a hard worker and Dave deserves all the success he’s achieved! Hopefully all our hard work in the coffee shop will start to see positive results soon as well.
While I was staying with Dave in LA, Dave gave me some great cooking tips and we even cooked a few meals together. I took lots of pictures and notes and will be sharing all with you!
One of my favorite meals were Dave’s mussels. I had always wanted to cook mussels at home but was hesitant. Even though it only takes a few minutes, cooking seafood hidden in shells seemed risky. I am glad Dave showed me how because it was easy! And it’s also a relatively cheap meal to make which is a plus. The mussels for the batch we made cost $6. And since Dave already had the remaining ingredients in his pantry and fridge, there were not any additional costs.
1 Pound of Mussels
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups of wine or champagne (Dave usually uses champagne but we used leftover white wine for this time)
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped shallots
4 garlic cloves
1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup olive oil
Step one: CLEAN, ClEAN and CLEAN! The only small hassle with cooking mussels at home is cleaning them. The exterior of the shells have hair and dirt and must be cleaned thoroughly since the shells are cooked in the broth that will be consumed. Clean the mussels with a brush or abrasive sponge removing as much dirt and hair as possible. Then soak for 15 minutes. Repeat this process 1-2 times until as clean as possible. Remember to leave the shells closed since they will pop open when cooking. Also be careful because the sides of the mussels are sharp. Dave actually cut himself making these. It was just a small paper sized cut but regardless…be careful.
While the mussels are soaking, prep the veggies by chopping the garlic, shallot and tomato.
Melt butter with olive oil on medium heat in medium to large pan on stovetop. One of Dave’s tips to avoid burning is to always add a dash of olive oil whenever using butter. Dave says the olive oil helps reduce the volatility in butter.
Once melted, add the garlic, shallot and tomato. Continue cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add the wine or champagne.
Cook for one minute and then add cream.
Cook for 2-3 more minutes. (Optional addition at this point: salt and pepper. Taste and see if it is necessary or in line with your taste buds. We added just a dash of salt and pepper.)
The next step is important…COVER POT WITH LID!!! Covering with lid creates a steam which cooks the mussels thoroughly.
Keep pan covered with lid but check every minute on progress.
Immediately some mussels should start opening up.
Within about 5 minutes, all mussels should open up. Once they are all opened, this is an indicator they are cooked completely and ready to eat.
Eat and enjoy!
One of the things I enjoy most about mussels is dipping bread in the sauce! And Dave made homemade bread because he is of course AMAZING!
Doesn’t that look unreal!? What until you try to make these mussels yourself.! So easy. And the best part is most of the ingredients can be substituted. The beauty of making mussels is that the sauce is very forgiving and flexible. Feel free to use whatever leftovers you have. We used white wine but champagne or even red wine could be used. Also we used shallots for this version but onions certainly could have been utilized. And lastly, tomatoes could have been substituted for something else or omitted completely.
I can’t wait to share all the other recipes Dave taught me with you. Just to tease you a little here are some of Dave’s recipes I’ll share with you the next few weeks…
Homemade bread, Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Onion Soup Pot Roast, Brown Onion Gravy, Roasted Eggplant Chips, Homemade Mozzarella and Caprese Salad and Coconut Pudding.
If you are in the Los Angeles area or just want to know more about Dave, check out his blog here.
Before you know it, summer and bikini season will be right around the corner. I slacked over the winter with my workouts so I’ve been trying hard to eat well and work out more to get back in shape. It’s not easy for me because I adore comfort food and always crave heavy greasy foods.
You might have seen them on Pinterest before. I decided on a whim to experiment and make them at our family Christmas dinner. It was risky because I’d never made them before and sometimes testing random recipes off the internet can be risky. The gamble paid off, because they were unbelievably delicious!
And my family LOVED them. Of course they laughed and were very skeptical beforehand when they saw that 7Up was a component but…once they saw them come out of the oven all doubt was removed. They look beautiful and…
they taste JUST like Popeye’s biscuits!!
If you saw these on Pinterest before and were wondering about them, they are a SURE thing! They are flaky and taste out of this world.
And they are easy to make:
2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup 7-up
1/4 cup melted butter
Cut sour cream into biscuit mix, add 7-Up.
Sprinkle additional biscuit mix on board or table and pat dough out.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a 9 inch square pan.
Place cut biscuits in pan and bake at 450 degrees until golden brown.
The only thing I might do next time is remove half the butter. I think the amount of butter in the recipe is a little excessive and could be reduced.
Hmm…maybe if I remove half the butter I can justify them in my diet and make them now?
Kale can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in kale do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability–just not as much.
Kale’s risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates in kale play a primary role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits.
Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale’s glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level.
Researchers can now identify over 45 different flavonoids in kale. With kaempferol and quercetin heading the list, kale’s flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
I’ll eat some kale chips, wouldn’t you? I also like kale in smoothies and juices.
Baked Crispy Kale Chips
1 bunch organic Kale, stems cut off and inner stem removed
1 t. Olive Oil
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
And a squeeze of lime if your sassy…
Remove the stems, wash and dry kale leaves
In a bowl, toss with olive oil:
I added the sea salt and pepper here. I added a touch too much salt so I would wait til the next step.
Arrange kale on cookie sheet, fanning out the curly leaves…then sprinkle sea salt and red pepper flakes to your liking.
Sometimes I feel like a 5 year old when it comes to vegetables. I like them but I’m not immediately drawn to them. They sometimes have to be hidden in my food in order for me to eat them. So when my friend Layla told me about vegetable soups she makes in a blender, I was very interested. I’ve wanted to increase my vegetable intake and vegetables blended up in a creamy unidentifiable mixture were right up my alley. I wouldn’t be able to focus on the individual vegetables floating around in the soup and would be sort of tricked into eating them.
If you are like me and had never heard of blender soups before, they are simple to make and taste really great. Basically vegetables are sauteed, then chicken stock is added and everything simmers until cooked completely. After that, it’s all thrown in a blender. The result is a thick silky soup that can be served straight from the blender.
Due to my new vegetable soup addiction, I eat so many vegetables now it’s ridiculous. My body will probably go into shock. My favorite all time vegetable soup is this Spiced Carrot soup.
If you knew how much I hated carrots, you would know that consuming this soup is sort of a miracle for me. I can’t stand carrots but somehow they taste so utterly amazing in this creamy spicy magical soup.
The spiced carrot soup is garnished with greek yogurt and crisp prosciutto which is the perfect flavor combination. It’s only a tiny bit on top so there’s no need to feel guilty about calories or fat. It seems strange using greek yogurt instead of sour cream but it is the most interesting compliment and actually makes the dish. The prosciutto is also important. Don’t attempt this dish without adding both those or you will be missing out.
Oh…let me add one important fact. The soup is all vegetables. No cream. Just vegetables and chicken broth. One bowl is the equivalent of eating several carrots. It is hearty and filling and we usually just eat this soup without any other dishes for dinner. Even my husband loves it and it’s satisfying enough for him.
I got this spiced carrot soup recipe originally from Williams Sonoma (also where Layla gets all her amazing soup recipes) and altered it because I don’t have a Cuisinart soup maker. By the way, if you haven’t tried William Sonoma recipes, give it a try because they are all wonderful. Williams Sonoma has very high standards on the recipes they publish on their website. I’ve tried many of them and the results were flawless.
If you have a Cuisinart soup maker, then follow the Williams Sonoma recipe here. If not, my adaptation is below. All you need is a blender and a soup pot. I usually double this recipe because I’ve found it only makes about 3 small servings despite the recipe claiming 4-6 servings.
4 thin slices prosciutto
2 Tbs. olive
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
6 carrots, about 1 lb. total, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 tsp. vadouvan curry powder ( I use any curry powder I can find)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken stock
Greek yogurt for garnish
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Directions: Preheat an oven to 350°F. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet. Place the prosciutto on the rack-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook. Saute until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the carrots and cook for 5-10 minutes.
Add the curry powder, salt and pepper and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. –The recipe calls for vadouvan curry powder but I’ve never seen it in our stores. I use any curry powder I can find including this muchi curry found at Whole Foods.
Increase the heat to high, add the stock and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Then transfer the soup to blender and blend on high until the soup is silky in texture, 1 to 2 minutes.
Pour the soup into warmed bowls. Drizzle with yogurt, top with the crispy prosciutto and sprinkle with cilantro.