Monday, December 28, 2009

Capellini with Tomato and Peas

1 pound capellini or other thin spaghetti
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, carrot, salt, and pepper. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water. Stir to melt the tomato paste and create a sauce. Stir in the oregano, thyme, parsley, and peas. Gently fold in the pasta and the cheeses, adding more reserved pasta water if necessary. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

Everyday Pasta, Giada DeLaurentiis, 2007

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

Olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 pound purchased cheese tortellini
2 ounces thinly sliced smoked mozzarella (I used regular, couldn't find smoked)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8 X 8 X 2-inch baking dish or 4 individual gratin dishes.

Whisk the marinara sauce, mascarpone cheese, parley, and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat.

Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish or dishes. Top with the smoked mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Cover the dish or dishes with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on the top melt, about 10 minutes longer.

Everyday Pasta, Giada DeLaurentiis, 2007

Fried Ravioli

This recipe is good practice for making latkas if you want a good appetizer and feel the need to fry. We used spinach tortellini in a bag instead of ravioli, but next time...
We're not big into frying, we tried this to use up buttermilk. I probably wouldn't make this a lot, but it would be good for a party.

Olive oil, for frying
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
1 box store-bought bite-size cheese ravioli (about 24 ravioli)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 cups marinara sauce, heated, for dipping

Heat 2 inches of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees.

While the oil is heating, put the buttermilk and the bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Working in batches, dip the ravioli in the buttermilk to coat completely, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Dredge the ravioli in the bread crumbs. Place the ravioli on a baking sheet, while you coat the remaining ravioli.

When the oil is hot, fry the ravioli in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried ravioli to paper towels to drain.

Sprinkle the fried ravioli with Parmesan cheese and serve with a bowl of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Everyday Pasta, Giada DeLaurentiis, 2007

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Read Round Up 2009

it's freezing outside and you're finalizing your New Years plans. that's means it's round up time! What did I get read in the last year? let's find out, handy dandy links included!

Books that blew my mind
1.Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg Review
2.Paradise Kiss (series) by Ai Yazawa
3.The Government vs Erotica by Philip Harvey , yes that Phil Harvey
4.Iron Council by China Mieville

5.The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
6.American Gods by Neil Gaiman
7.The Confusion by Neal Stephenson
8.Declare by Tim Powers
9.Destroyer of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward Lerner
10.Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
11.The Eighth Day by John Case
12.Duke Elric, Vol 4 (New illustrated version), by Michael Moorcock
13.Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
14.Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist
15.Hominids by Robert Sawyer
16.Hood by Stephen Lawhead
17.Majipoor Chronicles by Robert Silverberg
18.The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
19.Nightwatch by Sergie Lukyanenko
20.No Doors No Windows by Joe Schreiber
21.On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers Review
22.Orca by Steven Brust
23.Prophets, vol 1 by S. Andrew Swann
24.Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
25.Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
26.Sackett's Land by Louis L'Amour
27.Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
28.Shadow & Claw by Gene Wolfe
29.Soulless by Gail Carriger
30.The Stepsister Scheme by Jim Hines
31.The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers
32.Three Days to Never by Tim Powers
33.Valentine Pontifex by Robert Silverberg
34.Walking the Dog by Charles Davis

Comics/graphic novels/manga/lots and lots of pictures

35.Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo
36.Blame by Tsutomu Nihei
37.The Escapists by Brian Vaughan
38.Girl Genius Vol 5 by Phil & Kaja Folgio
39.Fullmetal Achemist Vols 18-21 by Hiromu Arakawa
40.Revolutionary Girl Utena by Chiho Saito

Non fiction
41.The Art of the Heist by Myles Connor
42.The Battle over Everything by Gordy Slack
43.Court and Constitution by Archibald Cox
44.SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
45.Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
46.Unintended consequences of Constitutional Amendments by David Kyvig

recipe round up coming soon, but I'll be you knew that already.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monster. Cookie Monster.

I try not to make cookies that often. Because when I do make them, I end up eating half the batch. usually right off the cookie sheet. And there is no such thing as enough cookie options!

Who are you?
I'm Monster. Cookie Monster.
(cue James Bond music now)

My cookie recipes

My Mother's Forgotten Cookies
Chocolate Walnut Cookies - gluten free!
Classic Oatmeal Raisin cookies
Classic Buttery sugary cookies - great for Holiday decorating!
Ginger snaps

some faves from around the interwebs
Katharine Hepburn's Brownies
50 Best Desserts from Homestyle gossip
Pumpkin cookies from BitchinCamaro (Ok, more cakey than cookie, but still really tasty)
Nine Cookies to try from The Kitchn, one of my new fave sites.

If that doesn't give you some new cookies to try, we gots issues.

what's for dinner?

"what do you want for dinner?"

"I dunno, what do you want?"

"It's already getting late, so it needs to be fast and easy"

"and I want some meat in it"

"pasta sounds good to me".

Thank you The Kitchn, my problem is solved! Specifically, this recipe, which I simplified and quick-ified even further.

Pasta with Keibasa

1 lb pasta
1 lb read-to-eat polish keibasa sausage, sliced
2 shallots, chopped
8oz sliced fresh mushrooms
1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
salt & pepper
1/2 tbsp dried basil
pinch hot pepper flakes
2 tsp garlic powder
1 jar of your favorite store bought tomato sauce
parmesan cheese

Start the water to boil for the pasta. put the sliced keibasa in a very large skillet, and let it cook for a minute or two. It should give up some grease. Add the shallots, and cook 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and stir and cook, to let the mushrooms soak up some of the grease. If you are using Turkey Keibasa, you may need to add some oil. add the zucchini and spices. try to get the zucchini peices down to the bottom of the pan. Once the zucchini is getting to a stage of done-ness, and if you have room in your skillet, add the tomato sauce right in there, and let simmer until the pasta is done. Otherwise, heat the sauce up on the stove or in the microwave.

when pasta is cooked, drain and rinse well. serve sauce & meat & veg over pasta, sprinkle parm on top.

The only things we had to buy for this was the sausage and the fresh mushrooms. Everything else we had in the house. doesn't get much easier than that!

Monday, December 14, 2009

In Johnny Depp & Tim Powers news. . . .

They've announced another Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The first one was tons of fun, the second one was cute, the third was pretty awful.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is due in 2011, starring all your favorites.

First gut reaction: As fun as these movies are, we really don't need another one.
Second gut reation: they are ripping off the novel by Tim Powers! Someone get that man a laywer so he can sue the crap out of Disney for stealing his ideas (that admittedly are based on history, myth, and pure speculation, like much dark fantasy).

Oh wait, Powers sold the rights to On Stranger Tides to Disney a few years back. So maybe they aren't ripping him off? Maybe this is just the start of his magnificently bizarre novels getting the Hollywood treatment? Personally, I think Last Call, Declare and The Anubis Gates would make great movies.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hanukkah Feast!

Hanukkah oh Hanukkah come light the menorah
let's have a party we'll all. . . .

. . . eat fried food and chocolate till we don't feel so good anymore. But it's such a good not feeling so good anymore feeling!

let's see. . we had Schnitzel with caper lemon salsa, my Mom's latkes (see below), and home made Hanukkah gelt (also see below). Was fantabulous, and now I just want to eat MORE.

my Mom's awesome potatoe latkes

3 big potatoes, peeled & grated into a colander
1 onion, grated into colander w/potatoes
1/2 tbsp salt
heaping 1/4 cup matzah meal
1 egg
Canola or corn oil

grate the potatoes & onion into a colander in the sink, and as you go squeeze out as much moisture as possible. you can also press a papertowel into the potatoes & onions to absorb more moisture. Mix the other ingredients in, right in the colander, and blend well. I used my hands to mix it all up.

heat 1/4" of oil in a heavy frying pan, over medium high heat on the stove. 2 or 3 tablespoons at a time, carefully drop the potato batter into the oil. My little trick was to mound the batter right on a greased spatula, then let it slide into the oil right from the spatula. the latke is ready to flip when the outer edge is browned, and most of the "pink" tinge has cooked out of the potatoes. This takes about 5 minutes. carefully flip the latke, and cook the other side. let drain on paper towels, and keep cooked latkes warm in the oven. If you latkes aren't getting dark enough, your oil isn't hot enough, or you're not letting them fry long enough.

We always had latkes with applesauce and sour cream when I was a kid. I'm not a fan of applesauce these days, and sour cream isn't so good for you. But you know what? Latkes and low fat greek yogurt is just awesome!

ready for more decadence? how 'bout some home made Hanukkah gelt? I'm trying to remember where I found this recipe, because it's just genius.

Hanukkah Gelt
12 dried apricots
1/2 cup chocolate chips (you choice - dark, semi sweet, white, etc.)

melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. zap it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until it's well melted. This took about 2 minutes in my microwave.

for each apricot, find the seam where the pit was removed. gently pull at the seam, and the apricot will tear right into two halves.

dip each half into the melted chocolate, and lay on wax paper. refridgerate for an hour before serving.

these are like inside out gelt - chocolate on the outside, and the "gold" on the inside.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Joe Schreiber's No Doors, No Windows

I admit that I haven't read a ghost story in a really long time. This really too bad, because a good creepy psychological thriller/ ghost story is worth it's weight in gold. Joe Schreiber's No Doors, No Windows is one of those thrillers. As these types of stories usually do, it starts out normal enough. After many years away, Scott Mast has come home to small town New England for his father's funeral. It's a little awkward being home after all these years, trying to rebuild his relationship with his alcoholic brother Owen, and help take care of Owen's young son Henry. Scott's high school aquaintances are still floating around town, and he can't help but drive past the old theater that took his mother's life in a fire 15 years ago.

When Scott finds his father's unfinished novel manuscript, he becomes obsessed with finishing the story about a young couple who live in a strange old house. When Scott finds the actual building, Round House, that inspired his father's tale, he immediately moves in with high hopes. He explores the large home, and finds other artistic ventures by other family members – paintings, theater posters, other manuscripts. All unfinished, they involve horrific happenings in and around Round House, and Scott is hauntingly drawn to each of them. Can he unravel the Mast family curse before the curse unravels him?

Reading like an extra long version of your favorite Twilight Zone episode, or a better scripted and developed version of The Ring or The Grudge, No Doors, No Windows is a classic ghost story/ psychological thriller with twists and turns to spare. Even better, we're spared the blood and gory details. It's only as bloody or gory as you imagine it to be, and let me tell you have I got a imagination.

I absolutely devoured this book in two days. As the second evening came on, I only had 50 pages to go and I'd be finished. It was dark outside and I was getting ready to climb into bed. Turn off most of the lights and read the book in bed, or wait till the sun was up to reach the conclusion? As much as I hate to put down a good book, I was going to make sure I finished this book when the sun was high in the sky.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quick and Easy.

Joy of cooking referred to this easy spaghetti sauce as "Streetwalker's Sauce". I'd love to know the story behind that! This pasta sauce is easy, quick, and freezes well. The tomatoes add sweetness, the olives add some tang, the anchovies add depth and flavor, and the hot pepper gives it some kick!

This recipe makes enough for 2 lbs of pasta. Use half now, and freeze the other half for another time.

Puttanesca Sauce, adapted from The Joy of Cooking

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
half a small tin of anchovies, chopped
three 28oz cans chopped, diced, and/or crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 cup chopped kalamata olives (buy the pitted ones in the jar)
small can tomato paste
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried red pepper flakes
2 tbsp capers (optional)
salt to taste

in large heavy pot over medium heat, heat oil, and saute onions until soft and starting to brown (5-10 minutes). Then add garlic and anchovies and stir to break up the anchovies against the bottom of the pot. when the garlic starts to change color (maybe another minute or two), add the rest of the ingredients except salt. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 45 minutes, then season to taste with salt and additional basil and red pepper flakes if you so wish.

If freezing, let cool to room temperature before freezing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the new Larry Niven / Edward Lerner novel

Yay for more Ringworld stories! Halo, you ain't got nothing on Niven.

Destroyer of Worlds review at SFRevu.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A good heist

a) I just adore those Ocean's 11 movies. I love a good heist story. cool stuff gets stolen, but no one gets hurt

b) I'm trying to read more non fiction. Just for kicks.

Was at the library the other day, trolling the new releases, and The Art of the Heist leapt off the shelf and into my hands. Its by a dude named Myles Connor, who recently got out of prison. for stealing stuff. like Rembrant paintings.

no kidding.

So in those Ocean's 11 movies, and stories like that, stuff gets stolen, no one gets hurt, hardly anyone gets caught, and no one goes to jail, at least not much.

Myles went to jail. Like, a lot. An avid art and weapons collector, he would do anything to get certain peices for his collection, including stealing them. and there are some bank robberies too. It sounds kind of glamourous, until you realize that Connor and his buddies are packing heat, and although Myles doesn't want to hurt anyone, his cohorts aren't so chivalrous. Great parts about this book involve Connor disguising himself as an art professor to worm his way into museum's back rooms, and his detailed plans for heists. Not so great parts include how he killed time in jail, his horrible character judgement of other people, and the fact that this man is a criminal trying to glamorize what he's done.

so is he a guy who got a bad rap for loving art and weapons too much who deserves a book and a book tour? or is he a spoiled loser who never learned to respect the property of others? not sure.

I haven't read much true crime, or books of this type, so I'm not sure how to digest what I've read. It was a morbidly fascinating read, and Myles Connor is some kind of genius and magnificent actor to get away with the things he's gotten away with. but should it be glamorized? if you can't tell, I'm torn on what to think.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Baked Caprese Salad

Not sure why this antipasti is called a salad, it's not really a salad. We used the left-over ingredients to make regular sandwiches. Created a lot of crumbs, but this is very good!

1 baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick (30 to 36 slices)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 Roma tomatoes, sliced
Ground black pepper
1 1/4 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh basil (used basil from a small bottle instead)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet, brush with some of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Top each slice of bread with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with salt. Return the baking sheet to the oven until the cheese and tomato are just warm, about 5 minutes.

Arrange the toasts on a serving platter. Top each toast with a basil leaf (or from a bottle). Using the brush, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

Everyday Pasta, Giada DeLaurentiis, 2007

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fun recipe sites

Here are some fun and interesting recipe sites that I recently bookmarked.

The Food Librarian

Recipe Zaar

101 Cookbooks: Healthy Recipe Journal

Jewish Recipes (Kosher)

Judaism and Vegetarianism: Recipes