How to Make a Cheese Board

Confession: I brought a sad cheese plate to last year’s Friendsgiving, and it went ignored in the corner. It was an embarrassing moment for a cookbook author,…

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cheese board recipe

Confession: I brought a sad cheese plate to last year’s Friendsgiving, and it went ignored in the corner. It was an embarrassing moment for a cookbook author, and I’ve been determined to improve my cheese board game ever since.

I walked into the party to find a gorgeous and elaborate cheese board nearly spanning the full length of the dinner table. My friend Jordan has a degree in sculpture, and she can sure put together a beautiful cheese board.

I took the opportunity to study her design. I can’t say that my efforts are quite to her level yet, but I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks to share with you today.

cheese and crackers

Building a beautiful cheese board feels like a fun art project. We’ll mix different flavors, colors, shapes and textures to build an enticing appetizer board. Give yourself some time to put it together, and you’ll enjoy the process all the more. The trick is to fill every little space on the board with nuts and fruit so it looks completely abundant.

A cheese board is the perfect excuse to break out your special serving items. If you don’t have a dedicated cheese board in your cabinets, though, don’t fret. For your base, you can use a nice wooden cutting board, a large serving platter, or even a tray or baking sheet covered with parchment paper. If you don’t have a set of cheese knives, offer butter knives, cocktail forks, cocktail picks or toothpicks.

Basically, anything goes, and no occasion is too minor for a cheese board. You just might have everything you need at home already. How about a cheese board with your French 75 this evening?

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Easy Tapenade

Olive lovers, tapenade is for you! Tapenade is an olive spread or dip hailing from the Provence region in France. It’s bold, zippy, briny and salty, though…

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easy tapenade recipe

Olive lovers, tapenade is for you! Tapenade is an olive spread or dip hailing from the Provence region in France. It’s bold, zippy, briny and salty, though we’ll be sure to keep the salt level in check.

Served with crostini or crackers, tapenade is a wonderful appetizer with drinks. It offers some welcome contrast when served with creamy dips, like hummus or spinach artichoke dip. You can also spread it onto sandwiches, dollop it onto salads, and more. Tapenade will keep for a week or two in the fridge, so you’ll find many uses for it.

tapenade ingredients

Tapenade is named after the Provençal word for capers, tapenas. Over the years, olives have become the predominant ingredient, and I used capers as a subtle accent. Similar olive spreads have been served in the Mediterranean for ages, which is why tapenade is a natural pairing with your favorite Mediterranean flavors.

Traditional tapenade also includes anchovies, but being vegetarian, I omitted them. This dip is loaded with complex flavor regardless, and it’s suitable for vegans and those with shellfish allergies as well.

To make this easy tapenade, you’ll need just a few basic ingredients and a food processor. It comes together in about 10 minutes with mostly pantry ingredients! You’ll need Castelvetrano and Kalamata olives, fresh parsley, capers, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Let’s make some already.

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How to Cook Farro

Let’s talk about farro! Have you tried it? Farro is a whole grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years. In fact, it may be the…

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how to cook farro recipe

Let’s talk about farro! Have you tried it? Farro is a whole grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years. In fact, it may be the world’s oldest cultivated grain. We’ve even found it in Egyptian tombs.

I love farro for its reasonably quick cooking time, nutty flavor and satisfying chewy texture. Farro is a hearty addition to salads and soups. I love to use farro in savory meals. It’s especially wonderful with some garlic and olive oil stirred in while it’s still warm.

dried farro

Farro is a nice alternative to wild rice, brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains. It’s a healthy plant-based source of protein, iron and fiber. As a bonus, it freezes and defrosts well. So, you can make a big batch to enjoy over the next few months.

Today, I’m clearing up some common farro misconceptions and sharing my go-to farro cooking method. Keep on reading for more about farro!

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Creamy Golden Milk (Hot or Iced)

If you’re a fan of chai lattes and turmeric, you’re going to love this recipe. This ultra creamy golden milk is inspired by traditional Indian turmeric milk…

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golden milk recipe

If you’re a fan of chai lattes and turmeric, you’re going to love this recipe. This ultra creamy golden milk is inspired by traditional Indian turmeric milk (haldi doodh), but it is by no means authentic.

In its most basic form, haldi doodh is made with turmeric (haldi) stirred into milk (doodh) or tea. Typically, households will add more warming spices to the mix, including ginger, cinnamon and cardamom.

golden milk ingredients

Indian mothers prepare turmeric milk for colds, coughs and sore throats, and aches and pains. It’s warming, soothing and supports the immune system, which is exactly what we all need right now.

This recipe uses cashews instead of milk, which makes it lusciously thick, yet dairy free and vegan. Serve it warm in a mug, or cold over ice!

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Easy Pizza Sauce

Make this lively red pizza sauce recipe for your homemade pizzas! It comes together with basic pantry ingredients in about five minutes, no cooking required. It’s like…

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easy pizza sauce recipe

Make this lively red pizza sauce recipe for your homemade pizzas! It comes together with basic pantry ingredients in about five minutes, no cooking required. It’s like magic.

This recipe yields a classic Italian red sauce base for your home-baked pizza pies. Despite its quick preparation, this sauce tastes rich and full of flavor, which further develops during the pizza’s blast in a high-heat oven.

pizza sauce ingredients

I like my sauce to have a bit of texture to it, and this sauce strikes the perfect balance. Many pizza sauces are either thick and dull or watery and flavorless. Not this one.

I originally developed this sauce recipe for a pizza recipe in my cookbook, Love Real Food. Since I just re-shared my favorite pizza dough recipe, I’m providing my go-to pizza sauce to go along with it.

Both the dough and the sauce come together very quickly, so you can enjoy homemade pizza with minimal fuss. How about pizza tonight?

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Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

How about pizza tonight? Homemade pizza nights should be fun and easy, and that’s where this pizza dough recipe comes into play. It’s ready in 15 minutes,…

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whole wheat pizza dough recipe

How about pizza tonight? Homemade pizza nights should be fun and easy, and that’s where this pizza dough recipe comes into play. It’s ready in 15 minutes, start to finish. That’s a lot faster than delivery!

This quick pizza dough yields a crust of medium thickness that’s crisp across the bottom and a little chewy in the middle. It has a lovely, yeasty flavor with just a hint of whole wheat. I love this dough so much that I shared it in my cookbook, Love Real Food.

proofing yeast for pizza dough

This dough doesn’t have the elusive, stretchy, chewy, sourdough texture that I crave in authentic brick oven pizza. This homemade dough is fantastic, though. A few reasons to love this recipe:

  • It’s made from scratch with basic, wholesome ingredients.
  • You can make it in your food processor (or by hand).
  • This dough requires zero proofing time. You can make your pizzas right away.
  • The dough requires minimal effort—just a couple of kneads and a few rolls with a rolling pin.

Let’s make some pizzas!

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Pasta alla Norma

We’re going back to Sicily! Pasta alla Norma is a delicious Sicilian pasta dish with eggplant, marinara and basil. I’m excited to introduce you to this dish…

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pasta alla norma recipe

We’re going back to Sicily! Pasta alla Norma is a delicious Sicilian pasta dish with eggplant, marinara and basil. I’m excited to introduce you to this dish because it is a completely satisfying vegetarian dinner. I’m craving a bowl as I type.

Most pasta alla Norma recipes are made with fried eggplant, but this recipe features roasted eggplant. Eggplant really absorbs oil like a sponge, so this lightens up the dish. Another plus? Roasting eggplant is easier and less messy.

I further lightened this classic recipe by using more eggplant and less pasta, so this dish won’t put you to sleep. It’s nice and saucy, just the way I like it.

pasta alla norma ingredients

I don’t speak Italian, so I first assumed that “norma” meant eggplant. Not the case! Norma is capitalized because she’s a lady. Or an opera, depending on how you look at it.

Here’s the backstory: Pasta alla Norma comes from Catania, a city on the eastern coast of Sicily. Catania is the hometown of Vincenzo Bellini, an Italian opera composer who lived in the early 1800s. One of Bellini’s most famous operas, Norma, is named after its lead character.

Folklore has it that playwright Nino Martoglio, after his first bite of this pasta dish, exclaimed, “Chista è ‘na vera Norma!” (“This is a true Norma!”) That’s quite a compliment.

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How to Make Crostini

Who doesn’t love golden, crisp crostini? Crostini is crusty bread brushed with olive oil, toasted in the oven or in the grill to perfection. I love how…

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homemade crostini recipe

Who doesn’t love golden, crisp crostini? Crostini is crusty bread brushed with olive oil, toasted in the oven or in the grill to perfection. I love how it shatters between my teeth, offering the perfect contrast to a creamy spread or dip.

The word crostini means “little crusts” in Italian. I typically associate crostini with party appetizers and cheese plates, but you don’t have to throw a party to enjoy these little toasts.

For example, you can resuscitate a stale baguette by turning it into crostini. You can whip together a fun lunch or snack in no time with crostini and condiments from your fridge. Or you can make an everyday dinner more festive by starting with a round of crostini and a creamy spread. Crostini is the answer!

how to make crostini

I recently baked up some crostini to accompany my upcoming caponata recipe. As I consulted my bruschetta recipe for guidance, I realized that I must not be the only person wondering how to make crostini. So here I am, waxing poetic about Italian toasts. Did you know that the singular form of crostini is crostino?

Today, I’m sharing all my best crostini topping suggestions and a simple, foolproof recipe for homemade crostini. Do tell me how you enjoy your crostini in the comments!

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Refreshing Hibiscus Mocktail

I’ve indulged in my fair share of cocktails this year, but sometimes, I just want a fun, fizzy, non-alcoholic drink. Something cold to savor on a hot…

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sparkling hibiscus mocktail recipe

I’ve indulged in my fair share of cocktails this year, but sometimes, I just want a fun, fizzy, non-alcoholic drink. Something cold to savor on a hot afternoon, or an enticing alternative to chilled wine in the evening. Something party-worthy to offer my friends and family members, and all the cute kids who come with them.

This beauty is refreshing and hydrating, and so colorful that it makes a slow afternoon seem downright festive. The outrageous pink color comes from hibiscus tea, which is easy to find at the grocery store if you look for Tazo’s “Passion” blend.

how to make a mocktail

Once the tea has had a chance to cool, we’ll fill our glasses (or a pitcher) with ice. We’ll finish off these drinks with some honey simple syrup (as little or as much as you want), a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a gentle glug of Topo Chico, the finest of sparkling waters.

I’ve been on a Topo Chico kick this summer, but really, any sparkling water will do. The end result is full of flavor, lightly sweet, and irresistibly bubbly.

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Fresh Black Bean Burrito Bowl

Let me introduce you to one of the best meals I’ve had all season! These fresh black bean burrito bowls are made from scratch with simple, wholesome…

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best burrito bowl recipe

Let me introduce you to one of the best meals I’ve had all season! These fresh black bean burrito bowls are made from scratch with simple, wholesome ingredients. While the components initially take some time to prepare, they make great leftovers to enjoy all week long. These bowls pack well for lunch, too.

In fact, these burrito bowls represent how I eat at home. I like to make a few components that play nicely together, and mix and match them all week. That way, I don’t get bored, and I don’t have to start from zero with every meal.

ingredients (rice, lime, cilantro, red onion)

“Tell me more, Kate,” you say. Ok, so maybe you first enjoy these burrito bowls exactly as shown here. You could change up your next bowl by adding some avocado and a fried egg.

Or, you could make a simple quesadilla, top it with pickled onion and cilantro pesto, and serve it with a side of black beans and rice. Another option? Turn these components into black bean tacos (or a burrito). Maybe you have some extra rice, so you warm it up and toss it into your green salad for lunch.

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