Oh yeah, so Manfriend and I went to Chile for 10 days. Nbd.
Although our trip was split between being outdoorsy in beautiful Patagonia and being cultured folk in Santiago and neighboring cities, this hike was pretty much the focal point of our vacation. I spent so much time researching and planning this portion of the trip that I failed to do any research on the city portion. Whoops.
Patagonia is amazing. You feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but beautiful mountains wherever you look (well, except for when you’re surrounded by flat lands). We found ourselves oohing and ahhing every few minutes and taking tons of photos. These photos don’t even capture the beauty we saw first hand.
I was a little worried about finding a legit day hike in the park, but after checking in with the folks at Landing Standing, I realized that we could totally do the Towers hike in a day.
We saw a variety of folks on this trail ranging from seasoned backpackers that were planning on camping to day hike enthusiasts like us to some folks that looked like they were struggling a bit.
A moderate to difficult 9(ish) mile hike. I’m still unclear on the actual mileage since some maps and websites reference it in km others in miles and they all say 9. The park map says 9.5km, but that doesn’t seem right. We did 6 miles of climbing in the heat in significantly less time so who knows.
There are plenty of uphill climbs and steep downhills. The most challenging portion of the hike is about 3-4 miles in and it’s a steep, rocky climb to the top.
We completed the roundtrip hike in just under 7 hours, but note that we were told it typically takes people 8-9 hrs.
We hiked this in mid-September and were warned that the conditions were less than ideal for hiking and viewing. There was snow on the ground, and as we got halfway up the challenging portion, it started to snow on us. We got to the towers and saw nothing. I’d probably do this in late-September/early October to avoid the snow and serious heat.
We started at the Hotel Las Torres where we also decided to crash that night. It’s a pretty fancy hotel, but also the only hotel at the trailhead. If you don’t want to go fancy, they also have some campgrounds and a hostel on site.
Our journey started in Puerto Natales, where we picked up the bus to the park. Once you arrive at the Administration center, we hopped on the Las Torres shuttle (about 2800 pesos/person). For more information about getting to the park go here.
From the hotel entrance, we followed a dirt path to the right that took us past all the hotel grounds. We continued over a bridge and kept right the whole way.
We then followed the clearly marked trail for Mirador Torres. You’ll have a pretty steady, but somewhat mellow incline until you reach the Campamento Chileno. It was closed when we were there, but we paused for a snack break since there was a picnic table.
We pushed on through a thick forest are with lots of questionable bridges before reaching Campamento Torres, which is where I believe most of the backpackers stop for the night. You’ll see a sign directing you up toward a mountain and it says only 45 minutes to the top.
I was determined to crush that mountain and make it in less than 45 minutes. I mean, the woman at Las Torres looked at us like we were crazy for starting our trek just before noon and said ‘it takes 4 hours each way’ with a concerned look on her face. It took us less than 3 hours to get to Campamento Torres so naturally I wanted to finish the one way trek in less than 4 hours. Duh.
That last 45 minutes is no joke. It’s all rocks, all climb, no flat places to pause. The knees started creaking and then I saw it. Snow on the ground. D’oh! I started wishing I had some hiking poles.
We made it through the first snowy incline only to be greeted with more snow. This time falling from the sky. Great. What did I sign up for.
It got a little easier as we ascended and we kept following the orange markers which seemed to keep winding with no end. And then we saw it. The lake. Frozen over. No towers except for maybe a hint of one through the fog.
Worth it. It was so quiet up there that all we heard was the creepy sound of rocks falling. Crack crackcrack. I’ll admit, I got a little worried and the irrational fear of a potential avalanche kicked in. We soaked up the snowy sights for a bit and then began our descent.
Not going to lie, I preferred the hike up to the decent. I was feeling the age in my knees and desperately searched for a sturdy stick to use as a makeshift hiking pole. No such luck.
We continued our descent for hours until we could see the Hotel Las Torres in the distance. So close, yet so so far!
Then we made it back. 9 miles (or whatever it is), 7 hours, rain, snow, sweat, creaky knees, no view. Still the best trek I’ve done so far.
We celebrated with beers at the hotel and treated ourselves to a night in the cozy hotel before jumping on the bus back to Puerto Natales the next afternoon. Thankfully, we were able to sneak a peak of the towers the following day as the weather cleared up!
While sitting on a very long return flight home from Chile, I realized I hadn’t cooked a proper meal in almost 3 weeks. THREE WEEKS! What the bleep?! I was desperately in need of some QT with my kitchen so I scoured the internet for some inspiration.
As much as I didn’t want to cook a heavy, meaty dish, a recipe for Korean chicken sliders jumped out at me. What if these went beefy? Sort of like bulgogi, but not? So, lazy me ordered some delivery groceries and got excited about whipping this dish up. Then I re-read the recipe. Slow. Cooker. D’oh!
So, I altered some things. Made some stuff up along the way. Googled substitutions for ingredients I didn’t have (slash, I didn’t want to trek to the other side of town to get them). I think these turned out pretty well…I mean, I probably would have preferred the healthier chicken version, but oh well.
Korean Inspired Short Rib Sliders (adapted from Shared Appetite)
1-2 lbs short ribs
2/3 c low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp red miso paste
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp chili garlic paste
1 tsp sriracha
1/2 tsp mirin
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp flour
1 1/2 c beef or chicken stock
1/4 - 1/2 c water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cola
salt & pepper
Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Brown on each side in a large dutch oven. remove ribs and set aside on a plate. Discard excess oil from dutch oven, leaving just enough to saute onions.
In a bowl, stir together miso paste, 2 tbsp water, chili garlic paste, sriracha and 1/2 tsp mirin. Whisk in soy sauce 3 tbsp miring, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, brown sugar and cola.
In same dutch oven, saute onions for 2 minutes. Add ribs and any reserved juices. Stir in miso/soy mixture and add just enough water to cover ribs about halfway. Cover and place into a 375 degree oven for 2 - 2.5 hrs or until meat easily separates from the bones.
Remove meat and bones from dutch oven and shred meat, discarding bones. Skim any excess fat from the cooking liquid. Bring liquid to a boil and stir in about 1 tbsp of flour. Cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in stock and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
Stir about half of the sauce into the shredded meat and reserve the rest for drizzling/dipping. Serve meat immediately on buns with kimchee, lettuce and scallions.
Mt. Diablo has been on our to-do list for quite some time now but it has taken a back seat to other easier hikes. Mostly because I think it’s a smidge too far (not true at all), in the land of the hot (uh, fact), a pretty steep climb (also a fact) and then there was that whole fire thing. Yeeaaah. The hiking cards were not in favor of Mt. Diablo.
Then a Weekend Sherpa email popped into my inbox and got me thinking it would be the perfect Labor Day weekend activity, especially with our trip to Chile coming up. We’ve really only done 3-4 mile steep hikes and we’re planning a long hike through Torres del Paine in a couple of weeks. This weekend was pretty much our only chance to fit a practice run in. Whoops.
Manfriend, Friend and I piled into a car and cruised on over to the East Bay on a surprisingly sunny Sunday morning. It was pretty hot to start so we knew we were in for a doozy of a hike. Four hours and approximately 3 liters of water later I began questioning my choices. We survived just fine, but everyone descended wearing their cranky pants. What can I say, four hours exposed to heat that we’re not used to on top of the climbs can make you angry. Do yourself a favor and try this in the winter, spring or fall.
I’d say avoid this if you aren’t used to/have never walked, run or hiked for an extended period of time. Also, those with questionable knees…the downhill may make your knees scream and I’d say there’s about a mile stretch of downhill with minimal relief.
A moderate to difficult 6.5 mile hike. Significant uphill climbs and steep downhills. Limited shade.
Anytime but summer. Unless you really like the heat.
This starts at the Mitchell Canyon Staging area in the town of Clayton. Note that there is a $6 fee at the entrance so have exact change and a pen handy.
Pick up a few maps from the Visitor Center since the trails, although clearly marked, can get a bit confusing. The trailhead is near the entrance to the parking lot, to the right of the Visitor Center. You’ll see a sign. Follow Mitchell Canyon Road to Oak Road (hang a left where the split rail fence ends).
Continue on Oak Road through a steep and grassy (or in our case, brown) meadow and until you reach a post pointing you to the Eagle Peak Trail (to Mitchell Rock & Twin Peaks) on your right.
Follow the Eagle Peak Trail, maybe pause for a breather at Twin Peaks and enjoy the silence (we may have stopped for many breathers) before continuing on to Eagle Peak.
There are tons of great views at Eagle Peak. Perch on a rock and soak it all up!
Once you’re ready, continue along the Eagle Peak Trail to Murchio Gap. Just note that this is a pretty hairy stretch with a narrow trail surrounded by prickly bushes and branches. Holy clausterphobia!
Once you reach Murchio Gap, you’ll hang a left onto the Back Creek Trail. This is where your descent begins. The first part of it is somewhat shaded, but still a bit hot and if you thought the bush/branch ridden trail to Murchio Gap was rough, you may hate this section of the trail as well. It’s a bit clearer, but you can’t see much around you.
The descent is fast and a bit steep, so proceed with caution. It flattens out eventually, but not soon enough :(
At the intersection of Bruce Lee Road, start following signs back to the staging area. You’ll eventually come back along a LONG stretch of brown meadow(maybe it’ll be green again one day!) that makes you wonder why you did this hike in the first place.
Don’t worry, it will end soon enough. You’ll see that glorious parking lot. I promise. In 2 miles.
Hydrate, pat yourself on the back and drive yourself into the town of Clayton to celebrate. We celebrated with ice cold beers at the Clayton Club Saloon.
I had a big banh mi craving and wanted to treat Manfriend to a beefy dinner after he was a trooper for a mega long, hot hike this weekend. I figured why not throw some beef into banh mi! This was (surprise!) my first go at skirt steak and I must say it was super easy and fast. Love it.
I thought my banh mi creation would be great on my favorite Acme dinner rolls so that’s why I made these into 4 mini sandwiches. If you have larger rolls, you could cut the skirt steak in half and split it among two rolls.
I kinda winged the pickled radishes & carrots, so if you have a recipe you like, please use that instead.
Lemongrass Beef Banh Mi
1/2 lb skirt steak, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp lemongrass, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp kewpie mayonnaise
1/4 tsp fish sauce
4 dinner rolls (I used Acme)
8 slices cucumber
shredded radish & carrot
onion, thinly sliced
rice wine vinegar
Combine garlic lemongrass, soy sauce, sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp fish sauce in a resealable container. Place skirt steak in marinade and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
As meat marinates, mix rice wine vinegar and sugar (about a 2.1 ratio) in a small container. Stir in radish, carrot and onion and let pickle for at least 2 hours.
Mix kewpie, fish sauce and a pinch of sugar in a small container and set aside.
Bring meat to room temperature and heat a grill pan on high. Cook beef for about 3 minutes on each side or until beef is medium rare. Toast bread halves on the same grill pan.
Smear bread with mayo and top with beef, cucumber, pickles and cilantro. Serve immediately.
So I have this Friend who is a newbie in the kitchen. Like, super newbie. I felt like such a proud momma when she texted me to say she found this awesome avocado pasta dish online and made it all by herself…and even used a food processor (kitchen gadgets are not her jam)! It sounded like a meal right up my alley, so I asked her to share.
I went a little rogue (because that’s just what I do) with the sauce since I a) didn’t have any lemons on hand, b) had some leftover spinach/arugula mix and c) didn’t read the recipe thoroughly so I just assumed pine nuts were involved.
I threw in some browned chicken sausage bits because I was craving meat and made the mistake of using shirataki fettuccine as my pasta. Just don’t. I love shirataki noodles, but this was not the place for them. I forgot that avocado is suuuper creamy and that does not pair well with the mushy/chewy noodles. Toss this with a regular or thin spaghetti.
Also worth noting, I seasoned my sauce til it tasted just right and then when I tossed it with the noodles, I thought it needed more salt. Do yourself a favor and salt the sauce a smidge more than you think you need to. Remember, always taste along the way!
Avocado Pasta (inspired by Damn Delicious)
1 avocado, halved
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
15-20 large basil leaves
handful spinach/arugula mix
1 tsp champagne vinegar
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 c frozen sweet corn, defrosted
2 links chicken andouille sausage, chopped
long pasta, cooked
salt & pepper to taste
Place avocado halves, garlic, basil, greens and pine nuts in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Brown sausage in a large pan. Once sausage starts to crisp, reduce heat to low and add corn and tomatoes. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add pasta and 3-4 heaping tablespoons (you can always add more!) of avocado puree and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
I’ve been very into tomatoes this week. I’ll find myself snacking on some cute little orange and red grape tomatoes just because. I also get incredibly excited when I’m at the store and see some bright early girl tomatoes or even better, super ugly heirloom tomatoes. I just want them all! Is my body in need of lycopene??
Anyway, I came across a bruschetta salmon recipe a few weeks ago while searching for easy fish recipes for a friend and thought I’d give it a go. It seemed like an easy and refreshing dish to make!
I prefer my meals to be light, but still substantial so that’s why I threw in some beans. There was no need to make a crazy meal with polenta, pasta or some other heavy grain. The beans were neutral enough in flavor that they didn’t take away from the garlicky tomato mix AND they were perfect for balancing out the acidity. Victory!
Note: don’t get scared by the tomato mix I list here. We had a couple heirloom tomatoes from our last CSA box that needed to be used, so I chopped those up in addition to the early girls. Only have one type of tomato? Use that! Have a bunch of different ones? Chop them up and use them all. Variety is the spice of life!
Also, I cooked the salmon to what I think is perfection: medium rare(ish). Our fillets were still pink in the middle, but not cold and raw. PERFECT texture.
2 salmon fillets
3 early girl tomatoes, chopped
2 medium heirlooms tomatos, chopped
1/4 c red onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 - 1/3 c basil, chopped
freshly ground pepper
greens, optional for serving
Toss tomatoes, onion, garlic, vinegar, basil and beans in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside as you prepare the rest of the meal.
Generously season salmon with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Heat olive oil in a skillet and place salmon in pan, skin side down. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until you can see about 1/3 of the salmon turn opaque (bottom and sides). This will vary depending on the size of your fillets. Gently flip salmon over.
Cook salmon for another 3-4 minutes on the other side, or until the whole fillet is opaque. Remove from heat and let rest in pan for a minute or two.
Place some greens on a plate and top with salmon. Scoop tomato mixture on top of salmon and serve.
I’ve been slacking in the kitchen lately. I think it might be due to lack of time and inspiration. I blame the fog.
We had some frozen shrimp on hand (currently the only frozen seafood I will purchase) and most of the ingredients for a simple weeknight pasta dish, so I went with something I haven’t made in ages. Shrimp Fra Diavolo. This wasn’t quite what I rememembered, but it was a nice quick and comforting meal for a foggy evening. I dialed back on the spice for Manfriend, but feel free to make this as spicy as you want by adjusting the crushed red pepper content.
We didn’t have a ton of shrimp on hand, but 12 seemed to be perfect for us plus a leftover meal. You could always do this with more (maybe smaller) OR toss in some other creatures of the sea…scallops, white fish, whatever your heart desires!
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
12 large shrimp, peeled
1 14.5 oz can no salt diced tomatoes
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 - 1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 c basil, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 lb thin spaghetti, cooked & drained
Toss shrimp in about 1 tbsp of the wine and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook quickly in a large pan until they start to turn pink. Remove and place in a bowl as you cook the sauce.
In the same pan, add olive oil and saute onion, roma tomatoes and garlic for 3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, crushed red pepper and white wine, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken up.
Stir in shrimp and half the basil and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Serve over pasta with remaining basil and parmesan cheese if desired.
It’s IPA Day! You know, another one of those ridiculous (probably made up) holidays that you sort of want to celebrate…like national hot dog day. I mean, I know I do.
What’s on your happy hour (or lunch, no judging) list for today? I want to track down a taste of the latest in Speakeasy’s Limited Series:
I got a little teaser email about the Untouchable IPA and now I’m determined to find it. Yes, I know, I could just drag myself to the taproom, but ugh…SO FAR! Have any of you sampled this new brew? Thoughts?
Am I one of the few people that doesn’t call green beans green beans? I grew up calling them string beans and as I was prepping dinner, I asked Manfriend what he called the green veggies he was snipping. Uhh, green beans? Me: Not string beans? MF: no. Me: Hm. Am I weird? MF: probably.
Call them what you will, either way, they are a crisp and delicious addition to any meal. I took the Asian route and served them sauteed over rice. I think they went well with the soft tofu and salty sauce.
Note: although it seems like there’s a whole lot of garlic happening in this dish, it’s not an overwhelmingly garlic taste.
Green Beans with Black Bean Garlic Sauce
2-3 c green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 block firm tofu, cubed
1/2 lb lean ground turkey
3 tbsp black bean garlic sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbs mirin
1/4 c water or chicken broth
1/4 tsp chili garlic paste
Stir together black bean sauce, oyster sauce, water or broth and chili garlic paste. Set aside.
In a large skillet, brown turkey, breaking up large bits with the back of a spoon. Once turkey is no longer pink, add about half the sauce mixture and minced garlic. Cook for one minute, stirring frequently. Add green beans, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove cover, add tofu and remaining sauce. Stir to coat, cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Uncover pan, increase heat a bit, and continue cooking for another minute or so until the sauce starts to thicken up. Serve immediately over rice.
Squash and eggplant. We have it. In excess.
The last time I made panzanella, I used these great orange tomatoes that turned the bread a nice vibrant color. I picked up another pint of those and decided that we needed panzanella this week and I was determined to make it work with all the squash and eggplant.
This recipe is very hands off, so that’s why I consider it easy. The all the basil and garlic will make your kitchen smell like heaven and it’ll be tough to resist the urge to snack on this as you’re cooking.
If you can restrain yourself, let this sit for a few minutes before serving so the bread can soak up the dressing and any juices from the veggies. It’ll be worth it. I promise.
Roasted Veggie Panzanella
1/2 loaf crusty bread, cut into cubes (I used Semifreddi’s Sweet Batard)
2 summer squash, cut into half moons
3-4 small eggplants, cut into half moons
1 large clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp red onion, minced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 c kalamata olives, halved
1/2 c basil, chiffonade
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for roasting
2 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Add red onion, tomatoes and basil to vinegar mixture, toss to coat and set aside.
Lightly toast your bread, just enough to dry it out (you don’t want croutons!) and place in a large bowl.
Toss squash and eggplant in a generous amount of olive oil and roast until soft and slightly browned. Add to bread bowl and lightly toss.
Add vinegar and tomato mixture to bread bowl and gently toss to coat. Fold in olives and season with salt and pepper to taste.
This week’s CSA box was full of these super cute Hansel eggplants. As we all know, I have a love/hate relationship with eggplant. I love eating it, but I hate coming up with ways to use it. This is one of my fall back recipes since I know the flavors and textures work well with each other. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the eggplant and tofu soak up all the delicious sauce. Mmmmm. Serve this over white or brown rice.
Soy Braised Eggplant
3 small eggplants, cut into bite sized half circles
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 block firm tofu, cut into cubes
1/2 lb lean ground turkey
1 tsp dried Thai basil
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/4 c water or chicken broth
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Generously sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and let sit for 10-15 minutes (or up to 30, if you’re patient). Rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.
Whisk together mirin, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Set aside.
Brown turkey in a medium pan. Once turkey is almost cooked through, remove from pan and set aside. Add tofu and garlic to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes or until tofu starts to brown a bit. Add eggplant and cook for another 3 minutes. Return turkey to the pan and pour in half the sauce mixture and thai basil. Stir to combine and reduce heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour in water and remaining sauce. Cook for 3 minutes or until about half the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in scallions and cook for another minute. Serve immediately.
After a few failed dinner attempts last week, I decided to take it back to basics with a simple marinated and broiled chicken thigh, some roasted broccolini and these potatoes. I’ll admit, these potatoes were a bit of an experiment, but in the end I think they turned out pretty good. The potatoes and onions end up tasting just slightly sweet, which works well with the fragrant herbs de provence and black pepper. I’ll for sure be making these again, but I may try to get the potatoes a little crisper.
Skillet Herb Potatoes
3 yellow potatoes, halved lengthwise and cut into half moons
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 tsp herbs de provence
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tbsp water or chicken broth
coarsely ground pepper
salt to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet (cast iron would be perfect) and add potatoes. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tbsp water or broth, stir and cover. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add onion, garlic powder and herbs de provence and cook for 2-3 minutes or until onion begins to soften, stirring frequently. If pan gets too sticky, add water or chicken broth. Continue cooking until potatoes are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Sometimes I forget to go to the grocery store. This is how dinner goes down when that happens.
There was a chicken breast that had to be used. All we had was a box of angel hair pasta that was 3/4 full (wtf?). The only fresh veggies leftover from our CSA box were 1 summer squash, carrots and a ton of basil.
I modified the recipe so you toss the sauce with the pasta because, let’s be honest. It’s just better all mixed up.
Garlicky Pasta with Summer Squash & Chicken
1/2 box spaghetti, cooked & drained
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 summer squash, cut into bite sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 anchovy fillets, minced
1/3 c basil leaves, chiffonade
1 can artichoke quarters, rinsed and drained
1/4 c low sodium chicken broth or water
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
Toss chicken in a bag (or bowl) with some balsamic vinegar, garlic powder and a bit of olive oil. Let marinate for 5-10 minutes.
In a large skillet, brown chicken (about 3-5 minutes). Add squash and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding artichokes. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic and anchovy and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth or water and let cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in parmesan, basil and red pepper flakes and continue cooking until liquid starts to cook off a bit. Toss with pasta and serve.
Ok. Have I told you that I’ve really been into halloumi recently? The slightly squeaky, salty, grilling cheese is my new dairy favorite. I’m just so fascinated by the fact that you can brown the cheese and it won’t get all goopy in the pan! Amazing!
I found this recipe while searching for happy hour bites and I was a little worried that it wouldn’t go over too well since, you know, salty cheese on sweet watermelon and all. Wrong-o. It’s a delicious combo!
I had to grill the halloumi in the morning and nuke it in the office microwave, so they ended up a little rubbery. This would be best if you served them with the halloumi still slightly warm and crisp from the pan.
Watermelon & Halloumi Bites w/Basil Mint Oil (from Spache the Spatula)
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
2 tbsp fresh mint, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and freshly-cracked pepper
8 oz. halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/2” steaks
cubed watermelon (The amount will depend on how many cubes you get out of your cheese. I just sliced my watermelon to fit my halloumi cubes.)
In a small resealable jar, combine the basil, mint, olive oil, garlic powder and some salt and pepper. Mash everything around a bit and then place in the fridge (I made mine the night before).
Heat a pan over medium-high heat and sear the halloumi steaks on each side for about 2 minutes, until golden.
Cut the halloumi into cubes (roughly the same size as your watermelon). Place a piece of halloumi on top of a watermelon cube and stab with a toothpick.
Bring herb oil to room temperature.
Arrange watermelon cubes on a platter and drizzle with the herb oil.
This recipe was circulated among my foodie coworkers and I’ve been meaning to give it a try for several weeks now. I love cauliflower, mint AND peas!
I just so happened to have cauliflower and extra mint, so I figured why not make this a mid-week cooking experiment! I ended up turning the pea spread into more of a puree because I just don’t know how to say enough is enough when it comes to blenders and let me tell you, I would spread this puree on ANYTHING. It’s slightly sweet, just a teeny bit spicy and the best green sauce to hit my table since my Cilantro Lime Avocado Sauce!
The cauliflower fritters left me feeling meh. I used regular flour because I saw no need to purchase special flour, especially since I’m a gluten gluten all the time gal. I made them and then wished they were made of corn and black beans. Oh well.
Cauliflower Fritters with Mint & Pea Puree (adapted from The Kitchn)
For the mint & pea puree:
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
2 tbsp mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp walnuts
1 tbsp greek yogurt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt & pepper to taste
For the fritters:
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 c flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c parmesan cheese, grated
2 scallions, chopped
cooking spray or oil for frying
Place peas, mint, garlic, parmesan, lemon juice, walnuts and crushed red pepper in a bowl and puree with an immersion blender. Stir in greek yogurt and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Toss cauliflower florets in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until cauliflower starts to brown. Remove from oven, cool, chop and place in a large bowl.
Add flour to cauliflower and toss well to coat. Fold in eggs, parmesan and scallions.
Heat oil in a large skillet and scoop a heaping tablespoon of the fritter mixture into the skillet. Gently flatten the mixture and repeat, fitting as many fritters in as you can. Cook for a 2-3 minutes on each side before flipping. Serve with a scoop of the pea puree.