Green Tea and Mint Popsicles

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Summer’s on its sweet way, hallelujah! And with it comes the sun and the heat. There’s nothing I want more than a cool treat to enjoy outside on a warm day. I love Giada’s recipe below: these green tea and mint pops are so refreshing. I decided to brew matcha tea because of the health benefits. One cup of matcha tea has the nutritional value of 10 cups of regular green tea! It’s said to calm the body and relax the mind. I enjoy a cup of hot matcha tea from time to time, but how fun is it to freeze it into a pop for the summer? This is the 3rd installment in the Giada De Laurentiis experimentation week! So far we’ve made mushroom & kale pizzettes and sweet pea and avo toast. Get yourself a nice ice pop mold kit like this one from Amazon— you won’t be disappointed!!

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of brewed green tea, chilled
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup small fresh mint leaves
  1. I recommend brewing your tea nice and long to get the green tea flavor to shine through. Place the green tea in a pitcher with the lemon juice, mint leaves and honey. Stir until the honey dissolves. Pour into molds, filling to the top. Insert sticks and freeze for 4 to 6 hours or until firm.
  2. When ready to serve, run the mold under warm water for a few seconds to release the pops.

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, Happy Cooking

Sweet Pea and Avocado Toast

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I know this isn’t exactly breaking news, but: Avocado Toast began to have it’s moment in the spotlight in the last 2 years and is still shining strong. There’s just something about it that makes everyone all happy, including me. I’ve had it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I almost always top with a fried egg (or poached like this, if I’m feeling fancy). It always begs for a generous sprinkle of sea salt and red pepper flakes. Sometimes some black sesame seeds. Any way you slice it, this toast trend is here to stay. In my last post, I showed you my take on Giada De Laurentiis’ mushroom pizzettes. I’m working my way through another 3 of her recipes this week. Today, I present to you her recipe for this toasty number: Sweet Pea Avocado puree topped with a pretty poached egg. #PUTANEGGONIT is a thing, and that thing makes all toast better. What I love about this recipe is the addition of the pea to the avocado. The lime juice and mint in there add such freshness! It’s a complexity that you don’t get from avocado alone. I always love a kick of red pepper flakes. This is the kind of breakfast or brunch you make for yourself on your off-day from work, when you can sit back with the paper (or your Instagram feed, let’s face it) and a nice cup of coffee. Take your time and savor this one.

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp graded lime zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and diced in the skin
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 (3/4″) slices of Batard loaf or other small rustic bread loaf, toasted (I used Sourdough)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Flaked salt (I used sea salt)
  1. In a food processor, combine the peas, mint, lime zest and juice, salt, and olive oil. Pulse until the peas are coarsely chopped. Spoon out and add the avocado and pulse to combine and form a coarse spread. Set aside.
  2. In a shallow medium saucepan, combine 4 cups of water with the vinegar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Adjust the head to maintain the gentle simmer (don’t allow it to boil). One at a time, break each egg into a small bowl; swirl the water with a spoon, creating a vortex, and gently slide the egg into the simmering water. Use a slotted spoon to gently coax the egg white up and around the yolk.
  3. Repeat with the remaining eggs (depending on the size of your pan, it may be easier to do just 2 eggs at a time so you can keep and eye on them and not crowd the pan). Cook the eggs 3-4 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolk is still soft when touched. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain well on a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Spread a good amount of the pea puree on each piece of toast. Top with a poached egg. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt.

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, Cook Happy, 2014.

Roasted Mushroom and Kale Pizzettes

5Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I was feeling under the weather today and took full advantage of my day at home. While I should have taken the opportunity to clean my apartment, I proceeded to make more messes in the kitchen. But remember: behind every messy kitchen and filled sink is an incredible dish or two (or three). I realize now more than ever that the kitchen is my favorite place to be.

Today I graduated from my old camera, a Fujifilm I had in college, to a shiny, new, sparkly (did I say already say shiny?) amazing, professional, Canon 6D and a 50mm lens! I did the happy dance all over the house today. I’d been hoping and praying to be able to upgrade this summer. When an exciting food photography job came my way, I decided it was time to step up the game. If I was holding a glass of champagne, I would say, “Here’s to the future of Cuoco Contento and may it be utterly delicious!” I wish happy cooking for everyone.

I’ve been a huge Giada De Laurentiis fan for a while now. I’ve never seen a girl more enthusiastic about cooking, never mind  a girl with such a killer smile. She is one energetic, passionate, and needless to say, happy, chef. She released her book Happy Cooking late last year and I pre-ordered it. It’s filled with all the kinds of things that make me swoon: pastas, soups, healthy snacks, party drinks and little hors d’oeuvres that make you want to drop what you’re doing and host a dinner party. I love the Italian in her and it always shines through her dishes. I’ve had my eye on a few of her recipes that I finally decided to tackle this week. We begin with these darling little things: roasted mushroom pizzettes (just a cute word for tiny pizza!) topped with mozzarella, roasted button mushrooms, ribbons of kale, and blue cheese. Giada’s recipe calls for gorgonzola but I had blue on hand. And if you’re a fan of blue like me, it’s t-a-s-t-y. I could hardly wait for these to cool before I ate three in a row. They’re small so who’s counting, right? These are so great for summer parties or game day eats. Add a little sophistication to the wings and guac table. Follow along with me this week as we delve into three flavor-packed recipes from Giada!

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Ingredients:

  • 8 oz button mushrooms, de-stemmed, washed and sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 ball store-bought pizza dough (12-16 oz)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 small bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves sliced into ribbons
  • 2 oz blue cheese (or gorgonzola) crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss mushrooms with olive oil and salt on a parchment-lined sheet pan and roast for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Roll out your pizza dough to 1/4″ thickness. Using a 3″ round cookie cutter (or drinking glass) and transfer pizza circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the circles lightly with olive oil. Top each with a teaspoon of mozzarella, a little mushroom, kale and sprinkle of blue cheese. Drizzle a little more olive oil over each. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. Serve immediately.

Recipe/adaptation courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.