Category Archives: European

Chai Peach Clafoutis

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Chai Peach Clafoutis

Let me begin by saying that two weeks ago I’d never heard of “clafoutis.” I didn’t know how to pronounce “clafoutis.” I certainly did not foresee myself making “clafoutis,” and then eating it three separate times in the same day. I wanted to tell you the proper way to pronounce clafoutis, so like any red-blooded American I went to Wikipedia.

Reading through the clafoutis article just now, I’ve realized that this dish can only be called a clafoutis if it is made with cherries. When made with other fruits, it is referred to as a “flaugnarde” which is really even more ridiculous than clafoutis and I can’t quite handle that. Let’s just continue to refer to it as a clafoutis, simply because this whole mess is getting too French for me.

So back to the pronunciation thing: since I also don’t know how to read phonetic symbols (although I did attend approximately 28% of the scheduled classes for my phonetics lecture at university), I’m going to guess that it is pronounced like “kla-foo-tee” with extra emphasis on the “tee.” Please correct me if I’m wrong!

Right, so whether you are making a clafoutis with cherries or a flaugnarde with peaches, the method is the same. You’re essentially mixing fresh fruit with a delicious flan-like custard and baking it in the oven. It’s heaven, really. My incredible friend Michele came over the morning I was baking this and we weren’t sure if it was meant to be a breakfast or a dessert. So we ate it for breakfast. And then later I ate it for dessert. And maybe in between those two events I snacked on it midday.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from www.IfLooksCouldKale.com

My kitchen was overflowing with an abundance of ripe, delicious peaches so I wanted to make something that really showcased their sweet flavor. This (faux) clafoutis did the job perfectly. I decided to mix things up a bit and spice the clafoutis with chai spices to complement the fruit.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

Rather than using a traditional pie dish, I decided to bake the clafoutis in a cast iron skillet. I don’t know why but I just love making desserts in that thing! It makes everything seem so rustic and lovely.

I adapted Julia Child’s original clafoutis recipe because it seemed like a perfectly good place to start. I just finished reading Julie & Julia (I must be the last food blogger on the planet to read it!), so Julia Child has been on my mind lately. Since I also recently bashed French food as being unnecessarily complicated, I thought that you might appreciate a simple and delicious addition to your European repertoire.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from If Looks Could Kale

Ready? Here’s the recipe!

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe peaches
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp.  salt
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • powdered sugar, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set out a large bowl of ice water. Use a sharp knife to score the bottom of the peaches with a large “x”, then place them in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove, and plunge immediately into the ice bath. Let sit for another 30 seconds, then place on a cutting board to rest for a few minutes. Starting at the bottom of the peach, use your fingers to peel back the skin by tugging on the corners of the pre-scored “x.” Once peeled, discard the skins and thinly slice the peaches.
  3. Place the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and coriander into a large blender. Add 1/3 c. sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, flour, and milk and blend until smooth.
  4. Grease a 9-10″ cast iron skillet with butter and pour in a 1/4 inch layer of the batter. Bake for about 2-3 minutes or until a film of batter just barely sets in the pan. The rest of the batter will still be raw.
  5. Remove from the heat and keep the oven on. Lay the sliced peaches over the batter in a circular design. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar over the peaches, then pour on the rest of the batter.
  6. Bake for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven when it is puffed and brown, and a knife comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from If Looks Could Kale

Nutrition (per serving):

225 calories, 4 g. fat, 6 g. protein, 41 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 6

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15-Minute Almond Chicken with Noodles

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15-Minute Almond Chicken with Noodles

I very rarely cook Chinese food because I usually can’t help but throw some fish sauce or lime juice into anything I make in a wok. Thus, most everything veers into the Thai-food realm rather than remaining strictly Chinese. I stuck to my guns on this dish and was really glad I did.

I had the idea in my head to make Almond Chicken and then just happened to find a big bag of snap peas at my office that same morning. One of my employees lives on a farm with her husband so she brings in fresh produce when they have too much to eat themselves or sell in town. Lucky for me, these little beauties went perfectly with the smooth tang of the sauce and the crunch of the slivered almonds.

AlmondChicken5

Did I mention that this whole bowl of chicken, veggies, and noodles is under 500 calories? Uh, because it is.

I originally had thought about serving this with rice, but since we eat so much Asian food in our household I’m kind of sick of it lately. Instead, I cooked up some whole wheat angel hair pasta until it was al dente, then fried it in some sesame oil and soy sauce to give it a little texture. It turned out somewhat similar to lo-mein. They worked perfectly to soak up the sauce and bulk up the dish – I don’t think it would have been the same with plain old rice!

AlmondChicken4

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 1/4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet rice wine (Mirin), or substitute sherry
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 c. sugar snap peas, rinsed
  • 1/4 c. dry-roasted salted almonds
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallion for garnish
  • 6 oz. whole wheat angel hair pasta (or any long noodles – just follow package directions for al-dente)

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken in a medium bowl with 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and the minced ginger, then toss to coat evenly.
  2. In a large pot, boil 6 cups of water with some salt. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes, or until al dente. Do not overcook the pasta, as it will continue to cook when you stir fry it.
  3. In a small bowl make the sauce: combine the chicken broth, sweet rice wine, cornstarch, 1 tsp. sesame oil, and sugar, and stir well. Set aside.
  4. When the pasta has finished cooking, drain the noodles and return the pan to low heat. Add 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and 2 tsp. soy sauce to the pan.
  5. In a wok or large, deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Add the ginger and chicken mix and spread it out into a single layer. Let it cook for 1 minute then stir.
  6. Add the onion and sugar snap peas and cook, stirring now and then, for 3-5 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile, return your al dente noodles to the pot containing the warm oil and soy sauce. Turn the heat up to medium-high and let the noodles fry, tossing them with tongs occasionally to prevent burning.
  8. Add the pre-mixed sauce to the work and toss well to mix everything together. Once the sauce has thickened, add the almonds and toss to coat. Serve over the pan-fried noodles and garnish with chopped scallions.

AlmondChicken2

Nutrition (per serving):

488 calories, 20 g. fat, 30 g. protein, 43 g. carbs, 5 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 12

Spring Asparagus Pasta Marinara

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Spring Asparagus Pasta Marinara

For the past four months or so I’ve been coercing the husband into eating vegetarian at least one night per week. We’ve been pretty good about sticking to this plan, even though he doesn’t quite understand why we do it. Personally, I think it’s a good idea for three reasons:

1) It’s healthy.

2) It’s cheap.

3) It’s good for the environment.

I also think it forces me to try new things and get creative with our meals. I introduced tofu into the house by hiding it in some fried rice but I don’t think the husband really appreciated that one. I love eating vegan and/or vegetarian and find most protein “substitutes” to be delicious, but my better half has zero interest in tofu, tempeh, soy curls, or seitan. So I’m typically stuck with fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains on vegetarian night. Sigh.

That  brings me back to last night’s dinner: Spring Asparagus Pasta Marinara.

Spring Asparagus Pasta Marinara

Spring Asparagus Pasta Marinara

Yum! I found this to be perfectly filling; enough to satisfy my appetite, but not so heavy that I felt overly full.

I blanched one bunch of asparagus in boiling water until tender-crisp, then removed it to a cutting board and chopped it. I used the same pot of water to cook my whole wheat pasta, then drained it reserved about a cup of the (green) cooking liquid. I cranked the heat to high and added some chopped onions and garlic to the pot with a splash of oil until the whole mess was golden brown. I then de-glazed the pan with red wine, brought it to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and added marinara sauce (I used Gina’s version over at SkinnyTaste, who inspired this recipe, but feel free to use the store-bought kind if you have some) and a little balsamic vinegar. I returned the asparagus and pasta to the pot, gave it a stir, and added a little of the cooking liquid back into the pot to make sure the sauce coated every little morsel. I folded in some freshly grated Parmesan cheese to really send it over the top.

Again… Yum!

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz whole wheat pasta (I used baby shells, but you could try penne or maybe bowtie)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 1 half onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot. Add the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes until it is tender-crisp (it will be bright green and tender but not limp)
  2. Remove asparagus from pot but reserve the water. Add your pasta to the water and cook according to package directions, or until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, dice your onion, mince your garlic, and chop your cooked asparagus.
  4. Once cooked, drain your pasta and set aside. Reserve about a cup of cooking liquid.
  5. Add the oil, onion, and garlic to your pot and cook on medium-high until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the red wine to de-glaze the pan. Let the wine come to a boil and use a wooden spoon to scrape any good brown bits from the bottom of your pan. Reduce the heat to simmer and add your marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine.
  7. Return the cooked pasta and chopped cooked asparagus to the pan. Add a little cooking liquid if the mixture is too thick, and stir in your Parmesan cheese. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Serve topped with additional Parmesan cheese.
Spring Asparagus Pasta Marinara

Spring Asparagus Pasta Marinara

Nutrition (per  serving):

269 calories, 5 g. fat, 13 g. protein, 42 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 7

What are your favorite vegan or vegetarian dishes? How do you avoid the beans-and-rice rut?