Tiny #Kitchen, #Culinary Mission: #Caprese #Sandwich

Caprese Sandwich

Insalata caprese (or salad of Capri) is a famous Italian salad of fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and basil. This combination is famous also in the Margherita pizza – both use the red, white, and green ingredients because they represent the Italian flag. This is a simple recipe for a sandwich using the caprese salad ingredients, lightly grilled to be warm but not so much that it causes the fresh ingredients to get cooked like you might see in the Margherita.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella balls, cherry-sized (ciliegine)
  • 4 basil sprigs
  • 4 hamburger rolls
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice the tomato in to 4 parts.IMG_20140924_003643
  2. Open the sandwiches, and put the tomato slices on to the top half of each bun.IMG_20140924_004129
  3. Top the tomato with the mozzarella.IMG_20140924_004148
  4. Remove the leaves from the basil, and place on top of the mozzarella.IMG_20140924_004623
  5. Cover the basil with the bottom bun. You should be left with a fully formed upside-down sandwich.IMG_20140924_004724
  6. Heat a pan on medium-high and place the upside-down sandwiches onto the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until top bun is crispy.IMG_20140924_004954
  7. Carefully flip the sandwiches right-side up and cook another 2 minutes or until bottom bun is crispy.IMG_20140924_005326
  8. Put the sandwiches onto a plate. Remove the top bun and pour balsamic vinegar as desired. Replace the bun and eat!IMG_20140924_005458

Tiny #Kitchen, #Culinary Mission: #Blackened #Salmon #Sandwich

Blackened Salmon Sandwich

Continuing the #avocado theme, here is a recipe that uses a simple avocado-based sandwich spread. The salmon has a bit of Cajun flair that adds a hint of heat, as well as a peppery sharp arugula (or rocket for those of you not from the US).

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 haas avocado
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 8 oz salmon, skin on
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 4 hamburger rolls
  • 1 oz arugula
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 1/2 medium red onion

Instructions

  1. Take the avocado half and spoon over the mayonnaise into a bowl. Mash it together with a fork.IMG_20140921_202817
  2. Slice the tomato and onion into 4 parts for each of the sandwiches, then set aside.IMG_20140921_202837
  3. Toast the buns on both sides over medium for 1-2 minutes on each side, then set them aside.IMG_20140921_203445
  4. Cut the salmon into 4 pieces, then pat them all dry.IMG_20140921_204011
  5. Rub each salmon fillet with the Cajun seasoning thoroughly. Heat the the pan over medium-high, then add the salmon skin-side down.IMG_20140921_205056
  6. Cook the salmon for 5-7 minutes with the skin side down. The skin should get crispy, and it should be easy to use a spatula to move. Flip the salmon and cook another 2-3 minutes or until the salmon is cooked, being careful not to overcook.IMG_20140921_205839
  7. Spread the avocado mash onto the buns, and add the salmon, arugula, tomato and onion slices.IMG_20140921_205929
  8. Close the sandwich and serve!IMG_20140921_210016

Tiny #Kitchen, #Culinary Mission: #Guacamole

Guacamole

One of the first recipes many people learn is how to make guacamole. There’s a good reason for that – it’s very simple, pretty healthy, and tastes great. Not many recipes can claim that trifecta.

Using the tips preparing avocados we’ve recently mentioned you will have the base for a great version. We reduced the quantities here so that it is an amount comfortable for 2 people, though you could make a larger batch and serve more people at a time (and avoid storing parts of fruits or vegetables that get left over). One other great feature of this recipe is it doesn’t require any special equipment beyond a fork, a knife, and a bowl.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 haas avocados
  • 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 1/4 medium white onion

Instructions

  1. Halve the avocados, then twist to remove the seed.IMG_20140923_235421
  2. Mash the avocado in a mixing bowl with a fork or other utensil.IMG_20140921_192058
  3. Add the lemon or lime juice to the bowl and mix.IMG_20140921_192345
  4. Add the salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper to the bowl and mix.IMG_20140921_192559
  5. Mince the garlic, then add to the bowl.IMG_20140921_193431
  6. Mince the jalapeno pepper, then add to the bowl.IMG_20140921_193601
  7. Deseed the tomato, then chop and add to the bowl.IMG_20140921_194113
  8. Dice the onion and add to the bowl.IMG_20140921_194437
  9. Mix the guacamole well together, then serve with tortilla chips.IMG_20140921_194716

Tiny #Kitchen, #Culinary Mission: #Avocados! Pt 2

The continued story of geeking out about the uses, powers, and secrets of avocados…

Storing

You can prevent the natural darkening or browning of the avocado flesh that occurs with exposure to air by sprinkling with a little lemon juice or vinegar.  If its already ripe, make sure to then seal any leftovers in a plastic bag or plastic wrap and put in the fridge, where it will keep for up to a week.  Don’t refrigerate any avocados before they’re ripe though!

SCIENCE!!!

If you’d like to know about the reason behind avocados dietary benefits, we’re going to get a bit geeky.  First off, despite their green complexion, avocados are technically a fruit, not a vegetable – they have a massive pit and grow from avocado trees.

However, they are an incredibly unique fruit in the amount of protein and array of nutrients they provide, as well as improving the absorption of particular nutrients from itself and other foods!  Besides potassium, B vitamins, several anti-inflammatory fatty acids, and other necessary nutrients, avocados have a high proportion of oleic acid (healthy monounsaturated fats also from olives and olive oil).  Oleic acid helps the digestive system form transport molecules that absorb and distribute carotenoid nutrients.  Nine major carotenoids (yes that’s right, the most commonly known source is carrots and other orange/red vegetables) are also found in abundance in avocados, concentrated in the darker green flesh just under the leathery outer skin.  What a great combo to have wrapped up in one fruit!  You may have heard carrots are good for your eyes, but most carotenoids are also antioxidants, known to give further anti-inflammatory benefits and thus help prevent arthritis and lower the risk of heart disease.  The same effect applies to other fruits and vegetables (also high in carotenoids) consumed around the same time – adding a small amount of avocado to a veggie salad or salsa will actually multiply carotenoid absorption from the salad or salsa 2 to 4 times over!  You’re missing out on so much without it!

Hope you’ve found this as interesting as I did.  What dishes do you use avocados for?

Tiny #Kitchen, #Culinary Mission: #Avocados! Pt 1

Our next few recipes will feature the awesome taste and goodness of the avocado, so we’re going to take a moment first to talk about why we like avocados so much, and point out a couple tricks we discovered that can help you out in the coming recipes.

Selection

Avocadoes!

First step is selection and knowing when they are ready.  Trust me, you don’t want to try to peel and mash a rock-hard unripened avocado – when we first tried, even use of extreme smashing force turned out to be futile in so much as deforming the shape of a tiny cut of unripened avocado flesh.  Ripe, ready-to-eat avocados are slightly soft, but without any dark sunken spots or cracks.  A pear-like shape is usually an indication that it was tree ripened and will have better flavor.  Firm avocados will ripen if left in a paper bag or a compostable bag at room temperature for 1 to 3 days.  Intriguingly, if joined by other fruits in the bag, they will ripen quicker.

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Preparation (Nick and Peel)

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise down to the pit all the way around.  It may help to separate the halves, if clinging to the pit, by rotating each half in opposite directions.  Remove the pit with spoon or knife tip.  The easiest way to peel is to then cut each half again to make quarters, and simply peel off the skin all at once using your thumb and forefinger, like peeling a banana.

Force-ripen unripe avocados

If you messed up like we did and cut into a super unripe avocado (hey, we had 6 sitting around that we had to get through!), there is a trick that can effectively ripen the avocado by softening it up.  Wrap the avocado pieces in soaked paper towels and add another cup of water on top in a bowl, and then microwave on high for two minutes.  Drain and unwrap, and the pieces should be soft enough to mash, if that was your intention.  In general, though, you shouldn’t cook avocado at any high heat since it breaks down a lot of the healthiest fats (more on that later!).

Tiny #Kitchen, #Culinary Mission: #Breakfast #Burritos

Breakfast Burritos

As it sometimes happens, you have a bunch of ingredients left over and need to figure out a way to turn those things into dinner. That was recently the case for us at Nowcado. The way we solved it? Breakfast burritos!

The recipe was pretty simple. We fried up some french fries extra long to make them crispy like hash-browns might be, cooked some eggs with several spices, then wrapped it all in a grilled tortilla. Really easy to make, a great use of leftover ingredients, filling, and it tasted pretty good, too! In fact, we even managed to make it entirely in one pan, which is great for our small kitchen.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tortillas
  • 4-6 eggs
  • 1 batch frozen french fries
  • 4 c peanut oil
  • 4-6 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Begin boiling the oil until a drop of water sizzles. Cook the fries in the oil for longer than you would normally (6-8 minutes) – we want to get a hash-brown like consistency.IMG_20140917_200926
  2. Remove the fries and drain on a paper towel, then reserve most of the remaining oil for future use, leaving a little in the pan for the eggs.IMG_20140917_203219
  3. Crack the eggs and scramble mixed with all of the spices (chili flakes, oregano, cayenne and black pepper, and salt).IMG_20140917_203257
  4. Heating the pan back up with the oil, then fry the egg over medium heat for a few minutes until done.IMG_20140917_203547
  5. Remove the cooked eggs and set aside. Lightly cook the tortillas in the pan on both sides, about a minute per side. You just want to get them hot and only slightly crisped.IMG_20140917_203945
  6. Last, assemble the burritos. Put the eggs and fries inside, then roll up. We actually doubled the fry recipe to have additional fries to eat on the side.IMG_20140917_204332 Optionally serve with hot sauce.

Tiny #Kitchen, #Culinary Mission: Pitting #Olives #Hack

In the unfortunate circumstance that you have unpitted olives while making a dish such as our Puttanesca from yesterday, you will have to go through the tedious process of pitting each olive by hand. If you have a dedicated olive pitting machine, then you can use that, but we certainly don’t in the tiny kitchen!  Trust me, you could end up spending well over an hour on this task unless you use one simple trick that makes the process much quicker and easier.

The idea is to separate each side of the cut from the pit, resulting in the two olive halves you want.  In general, you will notice that the flesh of green olives (which are unripened) sticks more securely to the pit than black olives (which have ripened).  Thankfully it doesn’t matter how many smaller pieces of olive you end up with for the Puttanesca, but if you are relying on nothing but fingers alone, you will find that prying the flesh from the pit requires a bit of finger nail length, lots of tedious effort, and many over-cut olives.

Fortunately, there is a much better way, and it works on olives of any color. First start with your unpitted olive:IMG_20140918_174133

You want to start by cutting a line down the middle vertically all the way down the olive going as deep as the pit.IMG_20140918_174141With the cut on each olive facing up as pictured, push down on the olive with the flat of your knife.IMG_20140918_174158  If the pit doesn’t immediately fall out, you can roll the knife back and forth with pressure until it does. IMG_20140918_174238That’s it! Easily pitted olive halves that were done much faster and more easily than with fingernails. Repeat the process with all the olives you need to pit until finished.

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