Monday, January 25, 2010

Totally Fantabulous . . . . and really not as hard as it looks.

oy. we bought only what was on the shopping list!, and still spent about $100 bucks at the grocery store. Food is expensive! and I'm a sucker for fresh veggies and decent cuts of meat, and fancy schmancy cheeses. . . it adds up fast. Time for some cheapo meals that only look expensive.

Also, it's winter, which means I'm craving me some barley.

Also, I've been meaning to start cooking with squashes, because they are good for you, and not counting zucchini, I have zero experience with squash.

Ok, so this meal was cheap, pretty, and even the husband liked it!! it doesn't get much better than that!

Barley Risotto in Acorn Squash, adapted from Smitten Kitchen **.

Serves 4

2 Acorn Squash
4 slices bacon/Turkey bacon (optional)
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cups chicken stock/veggie stock/water/mix of those
1 cup pearled barley
2 big pinches of thyme
1/2 cup white wine or sake
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch swiss chard, cleaned and chopped
2 tbsp butter at room temp
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (yes, you can cheat and use the stuff in the green canister. I did!)
couple tablespoons any kind of cheese you want, shredded.

this is much easier than in sounds.

Poke the squash all over with a fork. Cut the squash in half, top to bottom, and scrap out the membranes, seeds, and any other icky stuff thats in there. Set the halves flesh side down on a microwavable dish. put about a 1/4 cup water in the dish, and one half at a time, microwave for about 8 minutes, or until tender.

While the squash is doing its thing in the microwave, preheat the oven to 350, and start the bacon in a large heavy bottomed pot. Also, get the chicken broth simmering in another pot on the stove. when the bacon is done, remove and chop.

Here's where things get fun. THe barley is going to be much more forgiving than arborio rice, but you still have to pay a lot of attention to it. Don't expect to leave the kitchen for the next 30 minutes. Add the chopped onion to the pot you cooked the bacon in, adding more oil if needed. Stir in some thyme, and let the onion cook about 5 minutes over medium heat. When the onion is cooked, stir in the barley, and keep stiring! you want it to toast a little, but not burn. after a minute or two, add the wine. watch it sizzle! keep stiring! When the wine is nearly absorbed, add a ladlefull of chicken broth. and yes, keeping stiring. This is the general gist of risotto: keep stirring. When the liquid is nearly absorbed, add a little more. So you're gonna do that for the next 30 minutes or so.

Somewhere in there, your squash halves will have cooled a bit, and you can scrape a lot of the flesh out, to leave a 1/2" shell.

When it looks like you have one ladle's worth of broth left yet to add, mix the beans, bacon, Squash flesh and chard into the barley. Break the squash up with a spoon, and push the chard down under the barley so it wilts. Along with the last of the broth, add the butter, and the parmesan cheese. Stir it all up, let some of that broth bubble away, season with black pepper (I found mine didn't need any salt, but yours might), and you're nearly done.

Spoon the risotto into the squash halves, top with shredded cheese, and bake for about 30 minutes at 350.

Wow, now that I read all that, it sure looks hard and involved! but it really wasn't. Sure, you stand there and stir, and stir, and stir, and then you dump some other stuff in and stir and stir and stir, but that's really all you half to do. I was watching my husband play Assassin's Creed II while I was stiring. and then I read comics while it was in the oven. Couldn't have been easier!

And barley is so much more forgiving than Arborio! don't get me wrong, I adore Arborio, but barley is so easy, so chilled, so mellow. If you weren't so keen on the whole risotto thing, I don't see why you couldn't bake the barley in the oven with all the other stuff, like a casserole, then spoon it into the squash half and toss it back in the oven for a bit. the possibilities are endless!

** Phew! I checked! the lady from Smitten Kitchen isn't going to kill me for reposting my version of one of her recipes! I'm suddenly really worried about that kind of thing. . . .

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Citrus Sorbet Pie

This was an interesting had to frozen a lot longer for 4 hours, I froze it overnight. I had left-over filling.

2/3 cup boiling water
1 package (4-serving size) Jello Orange flavor gelatin
1 cup orange sherbet
2 cups thawed Cool Whip whipped topping
2 cups jet-puffed miniature marshmallows
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
1 graham cracker pie crust (6 ounces)

Stir boiling water into dry gelatin mix in large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Add sherbet; stir until sherbet is completely melted and mixture is slightly thickened. Add whipped topping, marshmallows and pineapple; stir gently with wire whisk until well blended. Refrigerate 10 minutes or until mixture is very thick and will mound.

Pour into crust. Freeze 4 hours or until firm. Store leftover pie in freezer.

Variation: Prepare as directed, using Jello Lime flavor gelatin and lemon sherbet.

Jello & CookWhip: Favorite Desserts, 2007

Key Lime Margarita Pie

I cheated, and bought a pre-made crust. Below is the original recipe. This was an amazing desert, and so easy!

1 1/4 cups crushed pretzels
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice
1 envelope Kool-Aid Lemon Lime Unsweetened Soft Drink Mix
1 tub (8 ounces) cool whip whipped topping, thawed, divided

Mix crushed pretzels, sugar and butter. Press firmly onto bottom and up side of 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

Combine condensed milk, lime juice and drink mix in large bowl until well blended. Remove 1/2 cup whipped topping; refrigerate until ready to use. Gently stir in remaining whipped topping. pour into crust.

Freeze 6 hours or overnight. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes or until pie can be cut easily. Garnish with reserved whipped topping. Store leftover pie in freezer.

Jello & CookWhip: Favorite Desserts, 2007

Caribbean Banana & Coconut Loaf

I didn't add the coconut, but will do the next time around. The loaf was very good, even without the coconut.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons honey
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup dried coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line and grease a 2-pound loaf pan. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Whisk the eggs with the vanilla extract until they are pale and thick.

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in the flour mixture alternately with the whisked eggs, milk, and honey, then gently fold in the mashed bananas and coconut.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert on a wire rack to cool completely.

The Farmers' Market Guide to Fruit, Jenni Fleetwood, 2001

Lemon & Lime Love Cake

This book is organized by type of fruit. Each chapter gives a small history of the fruit, and preparation, cooking, and nutrition information.

The mixture on top of the cake was too sweet for our taste, will use less sugar next time. The cake itself was very good! I didn't put the cake on a wire rack, so just poured the mixture on top of the cake in the loaf pan, and it worked out fine.

1 lemon
1 lime
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk

Preheat over to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin. Grate the zest from the lemon and lime and set it aside. Cut both fruits in half and squeeze one lemon half and all the lime. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Put the butter in a mixing bowl and add 3/4 cup of sugar. Beat the mixture until it is pale and creamy, then gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour if the mixture shows signs of curdling. Gradually add the remaining flour mixture, alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon and lime zest.

Spoon the mixture in the prepared loaf pan and level the surface. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Mix the citrus juice with the remaining sugar. Invert the loaf onto a wire rack, then turn it right way up again.

Put a tray underneath the rack. Immediately spoon the sugar mixture over the top of the loaf, letting it run down the sides slightly. Leave to cool before slicing.


Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans with the lemon zest.
Instead of using both lemon and lime, use the grated zest and juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes.

The Farmers' Market Guide to Fruit, Jenni Fleetwood, 2001

Fusilli with Spinach and Ricotta Sauce

I use the left-over sauce to use with pasta for another time, and used low-fat ricotta cheese. I got away with using our small food processor.

2 bunches spinach (to yield 3/4 pound trimmed leaves)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 pound dried fusilli

Separate spinach leaves from stems. Wash and drain. Weigh out 3/4 pound leaves.

Put the spinach leaves in a 12-inch skillet with just the water clinging to them. Cover and cook over moderate heat until leaves are just wilted, about 3 minutes, tossing once or twice with tongs so leaves wilt evenly.

Transfer wilted leaves to a sieve and place under cold running water until cool. Drain well and squeeze between your hands to remove excess water. The spinach does not need to be thoroughly dry.

Melt butter in a small skillet over low heat. Add garlic and saute 1 minute to release its fragrance. Put spinach, garlic and butter in food processor and process to chop. Add ricotta and process until smooth, stopping machine to scrape down sides of bowl once or twice. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup water. Transfer to a large warm bowl. Add as much of the sauce as you like and toss to coat, adding reserved water as necessary to thin the sauce. Refrigerate any remaining sauce.

Pasta Harvest, Janet Flecther, 1995

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I heart Vlad Taltos

click Here for my review of Iorich, the latest novel from Steven Brust.

And can I just say THANK YOU for putting a chart of the families of the empire in the front! That would have come in handy 5 or 6 novels ago.

This is what Manga Heaven looks like

what i would give to own a digital camera right now!! then i could show my you nearly sky high stack of manga that I've purchased in the last week.

What's the one good thing about all the comic/gaming/bookstores getting way in over their heads in the manga craze? Now it's all on sale. People keep asking me why I don't go to B&N to buy all this stuff, because "of course" they have it:

1. B&N isn't so good about carrying early issues in long running series. With 87 issues of Fruit's Basket, Naruto, and Negima, that there isn't much room left for more interesting stuff.

2. I'd rather give my $$ to independently run businesses. Even if I have to drive further.

and now, for the list of new goodies:

Read or Die volumes 2 & 3, by Shutaro Yamada. They had some Read or Dream (the sisters) too, but no one seems to have volume one of that series.
Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 22 by Hiromu Arakawa. Wow she's coming out with these later issues fast! Good, because I'm kinda ready for a final showdown.
Nana, vol 3 by Ai Yazawa. I just can't get enough of Ms Yazawa. Why her earlier stuff hasn't been translated into English, I'll never know. We were about to check out at the store when husband says "look at all the Nana they have, that you don't have!" jerk.
Blade of the Immortal, vol 1, by Hiroaki Samura. I've heard good things about this series, but other than that, don't know a thing about it. The artwork is less cartoony, more artsy, which is very refreshing.
Basilisk, vol 1, by Futaro Yamada & Masaki Segawa. They ran the anime on TV a few years ago, and since I kept missing episodes, It was impossible to keep track of all the characters in the Fuedal love story. Kind of Fuedal Japan meets Romeo & Juliet? The really nice thing about Manga vs Anima - if you forget who someone is, you can always go back a few pages!
Ludwig II, by You Higuri. It has two very handsome gentlemen on the cover, and the blurb on the back promises a historic backdrop for the story of King Ludwig II of Bavaria's trials and tribulations with love and loss. After I read it, husband asks "It's got a lot of history, right?" Sure. sure it does. Rated M for Mature.

I need another manga shelf. in fact, I need an entire bookcase for just my comics.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In the business of making money.

When choosing non fiction to read, I have a weakness for books about class action lawsuits, or cringe worthy lawsuits where someone sued someone else for hurting their pride or their feelings. Not only is it fascinating, but the ruling often effects the country at large, even if they don't know or care what's going on.

Enter Alison Bass's Side Effects, about the antidepressant lawsuits of the 90's. She's not (and I'm certainly not) saying antidepressents are bad. They help a lot of people, and if they help you or someone you love, do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor.

The problem is with how the pharmaceutical companies go about testing and marketing their drugs. During investigations, it was found that some pharmaceutical companies buried studies showing their drugs could cause suicidal thoughts in young people, or that the drugs didn't work as well as older, cheaper drugs. Also, many universities and hospitals were doing the actual testing of the drugs, and were desperate for funding from where ever they could get it. The funding often came from the maker of the the drug. If the university's studies came back with negative results, they put their funding in jeopardy, so there was intense pressure to give the drug companies what they wanted. it brought "conflict of interest" to a whole new level.

Neither the author or myself is saying that all universities or hospitals that participate in drug trials are dishonest, nor are all pharmaceutical companies bribing people to publish only positive studies. The few dishonest groups make the entire industry look bad. Bass goes into detail regarding specific dates, locations, periodicals, pharma lobbying firms, board member lists, and websites where the studies can be found so the reader can come to their own conclusion.

Her point is if the FDA even bends just once to the pressure of a pharmaceutical company (which they have), the pharma industry immediately knows they have the FDA in their pocket forever. The FDA and other trusted government agencies quickly lose legitimacy in the eyes of the people. I choose to believe that 99% or more of FDA officials, hospital administrators, psychiatrists, physicians, and university professors are good honest people who do not take bribes. But that leaves the 1% who aren't so honest. Pharma marketing people are very saavy. You've worked your ass off for their studies, why not go out to dinner with them if they are paying for it? Why not take them up on their offer for an all expense paid trip someplace? it couldn't possibly do any harm, right?

People should be able to trust their doctors. But doctors are busy, and can't possibly be expected to read all of the studies on every single medication they prescribe. There is far too much data to sift through. If the FDA says a drug is safe and effective, you and your doctor should be able to believe that it is safe and effective, yes?

Is the FDA there to protect us?
Do pharmaceutical companies exist to help you?
If you're not sure, read the title of this post again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

faboo fajitas!

after avoiding red meat for approximately 15 years, and only starting to experiment with it in the last year or so, what better way to experiment with steak than in Fajitas? Every time we go to Chilis, my husband orders the steak fajitas. he then spends the following 20 minutes or so in food heaven, having fajita-gasms. what could be not awesome about steak fajitas?

apparently, nothing!

I am pretty sure this recipe came from one of The Kitchn's recipe contests, but I could be wrong. For now tho, I am going to credit that site with providing this recipe.

be prepared and be rewarded!

Prepare - the recipe require 4+ hours of marinating. Prep your meat and veggies the night before, or that morning before you head off to work. Takes about 5 minutes.

Be Rewarded! once everything is marinated, you can have dinner on the table in 15 minutes, with about 3 minutes of actual work.

Easy Steak Fajitas

1 lb flank steak *
3 tbsp lime juice
1 red onion, cut in half then sliced thickly
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sweet peppers, any color, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup bottled salsa

Combine all in a zip lock bag, marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, turning the bag over every so often.

when ready to eat, have ready:

Flour Tortillas, and Fajita toppings, such as more salsa, chopped cilantro, sour cream (or greek yogurt!), lettuce, shredded cheese, etc

get the broiler started. remove steak & all veggies from bag, discard excess marinade. place steak & veggies on broiler pan, and broil 14-16 minutes, turning steak over halfway through. warm the tortillas on the stove or in the microwave.

When steak is done (to your level of doneness - charred, pink inside, whatever), slice it into thin slices, diagonally across the grain.

Fill your torillas with a peice or two of steak, some veggies, and whatever fajita toppings you like, and enjoy!!

Now I know why Fajitas at Chili's are so popular!

* anyone know of a cheaper cut that would work just as well? Flank steak is super tasty, but nearly broke the bank!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Plum Noodle Kugel

I've wanted to make this kugal for a while, it is very good and easy to make!

6 oz. farfalle (bow tie) or med. egg noodles (about 2 1/2 c. uncooked)
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 3/4 (1 1/2 lbs) fresh plums, quartered and pitted
1 c. applesauce
1 c. soft breadcrumbs
1/2 c. chopped nuts
2 T. melted pareve margarine or butter

Cook noodles until barely tender. Drain and rinse in cold water. Beat eggs, add sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Toss noodles in egg mixture, and stir in plums and applesauce. Pour into greased 2-quart casserole. Combine breadcrumbs, nuts and butter or margarine, and sprinkle nut mixture over top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note in cookbook: For desert, serve warm with heavy or whipped cream if making a dairy meal. Freezes well.

My own note: I just used a typical bag of egg noodles, and it came out fine.

Congregation Beth El Sisterhood cookbook (2003), Bethesda, MD

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cherry Clafoutis

Every time I see cherries in the store, I want to make this easy, delicious, French dessert. Unlike American "pudding" style desserts, this is softer, creamier, and barely sets. I suppose you could use frozen cherries, just make sure they are 100% thawed to room temp.

1 1/2 lbs sweet cherries, (frozen is okay)
2 cups milk
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

a little bit of sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 425.

pit the cherries with a pitter, or by squeezing the pits out. I suggest doing this over the sink, or outside. Also, don't wear white when pitting cherries! keep any juices that accumulate while pitting. pour pitted cherries into a large greased baking dish or large greased pie plate.

put the milk on the stove over medium heat until it is just about to boil.

While milk is warming, blend the eggs, sugar, flour, and extracts in a large bowl. When the milk is hot, pour it over the egg mixture, and blend well. (if the eggs start to cook a little, that's OK.) Pour the eggy milky mixture over the cherries in the baking dish, and dot the top with the peices of butter. bake at 425 for 30 minutes, or until just set.

the Clafoutis will continue to set after it's been removed from the oven. sprinkle the top with a little bit of sugar, and let cool to warm. Then cut into peices or spoon out. serves 6.

Monday, January 11, 2010

need something easy, healthy, and . . .

It's going to be a long week for me at work, so I needed some lunches that were easy to prepare, healthy, and hopefully didn't require me to spend muchos bucks at the grocery store.

This one must be a hit, as I've already had a few people say to me "What is that? that looks so good!"

and all I had to buy was a cucumber.

Easy Bulgar salad
make this the night before you plan to eat it. Makes about 4 servings

1 1/2 cup uncooked bulgar
1 1/2 cup boiling water
one onion, sliced thin
2 tbsp oil
one cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (about half a bunch of parsley)
salt & pepper

1/3 cup olive oil
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dried mint

pour boiling water over bulgar, let sit one hour. if there is any liquid in the bottom after an hour, drain it out. While the bulgar is softening, fry the onions. Fry the onion slices in some oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. They will slowly darken, and you'll need to stir and flip them more often to keep them from burning. This will probably take about 20 minutes.

Toss Bulgar, fried onions, chopped cucumber and parsley, and season to taste with salt & pepper.

Make the dressing by blending the ingredients, then toss that with the salad. Depending on your bulgar and your preferences, you may want to add either a little more oil or a little more lemon juice. You want the bulgar to have enough oil that it isn't dry, but you don't want it swimming in oil either. And the lemon juice gives it that nice zing!

Refridgerate overnight and you'll have a lovely salad for the next day. This bulgar salad is great served with romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, in a pita, or on it's own.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

new years leftovers

Happy New Years! and happy lots of snow and ice, if you live in a northern climate like I do.

I made these super tasty little meat rolls for a New Years Party. Another winner recipe from Claudia Roden's awesomely fabulous Book of Jewish Food.

These are far easier than they sound. And don't be stingy on the butter. when working with Phyllo dough, there is no such thing as too much butter.

oh, and you will need a food processor. there is just no getting around that with this recipe.

Moroccan Meat Rolls - Adapted from The Book of Jewish Food

2 onions, chopped
4 tbsp oil
1 lb ground beef
salt & pepper
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
juice of one lemon
4 tbsp chopped flat leafed parsley
2 tbsp (or more) melted butter
1/2 lb phyllo (if frozen, thaw in the fridge for at least 24 hours)

fry onions in oil or butter till soft. Add the meat, and once it started to brown season with salt & pepper. Add the rest of the spices and lemon juice, and one cup water. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes, then simmer uncovered another 5-10 minutes, to get some of the liquid out. fold the parsley into the meat mixture. cool in the fridge for about an hour, then put through a food processor till you get a pasty consistency.

cut your phyllo dough into long rectangles approximately 4" x 13". Stack the sheets, and keep under a dishcloth until the moment you are ready to use them.

Preheat oven to 325, and line a baking sheet with tin foil, and grease the tin foil.

take 2 sheets of phyllo, and put a heaping tablespoon of filling at one end. roll the phyllo up like a cigar, folding the sides in about halfway down. Do not roll too tightly, or it will explode a little in the oven. put the cigar on the baking sheet, and brush liberally with melted butter. Liberally! as in use a lot! Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes, or until crispy and golden.

We got about 3 dozen meat rolls, and they were a hit!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

great books vs mediocre books

Sigh. nothing wrong with a mediocre book. I finished two in the last week. the only problem with a mediocre book is when you're reading it at the same time as something insanely stunning.

Salieri's issues suddenly make so much more sense. Fabulous movie by the way.

The insanely stunning book is the new one by Gene Wolfe. I will not mention the mediocre ones in this post, in an attempt to not piss off people who thought they were the best things ever.

Another insanely stunning book is "Surely you're joking Dr Feynman", by the genius himself.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bookmark this post.

I meant to do this a few days ago, but we were out of town. 2009 was a record year for recipe posts, thanks to new contributor Second Redhead in The Kitchen, a.k.a. my sister.

In an attempt to organize. . . .

Second redhead in the kitchen's yummy stuff (Vegetarian friendly? Check! Kosher friendly? Check! Yeahhh!)
Applesauce Kugel
Broccoli & Mushroom Kugel
Potato & Zucchini Kugel
Apricot Kugel
Traditional Sweet & Buttery kugel
Quinoa Pilaf
Cranberry Walnut Pasta
Baked Squash #1
Matzah Cheese Casserole
Baked Squash #2
Honey Buttermilk Cornbread
Cranberry CousCous
Tagliatelle with Mushrooms
Pinwheel Pasta Bake
Pasta with Roasted Sweet Peppers
Cheesy Pepper Bake
Lasagnette with cauliflower & broccoli
Baked Penne w/Roasted Veggies
Baked Caprese Salad
Fried Ravioli
Baked Cheesy Tortellini
Pasta w/Tomatoes & Peas

Recipes from the Original Redhead in the kitchen

recipes of 2009 that blew my mind
How to make Bagels
Morrocan Beef Stew
The Best Lemon Chicken
The Best Fried Rice
Jerk Chicken w/Beans & Rice
Harira I can not get enough of this!!
My Mom's awesome Hannukah Potato Latkes
Hannukah Gelt
Pasta with Keibasa

and the infamous Pita project Part 1a, Part 1b,Part 2, and Part 3.

everything else
Kidney Beans with Tomatoes
Easy Berry Cobbler
Sort of Southwestern Rice
Holiday Stollen Bread
Date & Orange Salad
Easy Beans & Rice
Chicken Carbonara
Mushroom & Potato Casserole
Chocolate Walnut Cookies
Spinach & Potato Passover Casserole
Cardamom Apple Cake
Easy Summer salad #1
Easy Summer Salad #2
Sweet Potatoes w/Honey Soy Glaze
Greenbeans w/Breadcrumbs
Easy Decadent Chicken Salad
Corn Chowder, improved
Puttanesca Sauce

Nice. now I'm gonna go eat some muffins.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ditali with Asparagus

Happy New Year!

This pasta cookbook is organized alphabetically by type of vegetable that is the main ingredient. There is also information about equipment used for making pasta dishes, how to make pasta from scratch, and which pasta shape goes with what type of sauce. There is also an Illustrated Guide to Pasta Shapes, and tips on cooking pasta, making pasta sauce, and serving and eating pasta.

2 1/2 to 3 pounds think asparagus spears
1 pound dried ditali ("thimbles") or canneroni
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, in pieces
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Holding an asparagus spear in both hands, bend it gently; it will break naturally at point at which spear becomes tough. Repeat with remaining spears. Discard tough ends. There should be about 1 1/2 pounds left.

Cut spears crosswise into slices 1/3 inch think, about the same length as the ditali.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cover the pot partially. When water returns to a boil, add ditali. Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta and asparagus. Transfer to a large warm bowl. Add butter, cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat.

Pasta Harvest, Janet Flecther, 1995

Happy 2010!!

Hope everyone had a fun New Years Eve filled with friends and good food! I know we did! Some lovely friends of ours hosted a NYE party, and requested heavy hors d'oeurves and desserts. An excuse to make tasty little nibbles? Count me in! We made my Mother's Stuffed Mushrooms, Mediteranean Meat Rolls, and Zucchini Bread. Was faboo!

My Mother's Stuffed Mushrooms

The original recipe calls for two and a half sticks of butter. I suppose you could use that much if you really wanted, but I made this recipe with one stick + a few tablespoons.

these are also great "make ahead" snacks, easily freezable, then you just pop 'em in the oven.

2 10oz packages frozen spinach, thawed
48 large white button mushrooms, or 3-4 8oz packages mushrooms(see note below)
up to 2 sticks up butter (you probably won't need it all)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 shallots, minched
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg

line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil. seperate mushroom caps from the stems, and set the stems aside.

start with half a stick of butter and melt it in the microwave or on the stove. Be prepared to melt more as you go along with this step. I had 50 mushrooms, and this step took one whole stick of butter. Don't be stingy with the butter! If you melt your butter on the stove, keep the temp as low as possible. You can either brush the mushroom caps with butter with a pastry brush, or dip them into the melted butter. However you do it, you want them covered in a thin layer of butter. Lay caps on lined baking sheet.

Chop up the mushroom stems, and any mushroom caps that didn't survive the separation anxiety.

Pour any un-used butter into a skillet on the stove, and add chopped mushroom stems, shallots and and garlic and saute gently over medium heat for about 10 minutes. the mushrooms will soak up a lot of butter, so if the skillet gets dry, feel free to add more butter or a splash of olive oil. I know I did.

Add spinach and all other ingredients to skillet, turn heat down a bit, and cook until well blended. add more salt / pepper until you like how it tastes.

Fill caps with mixture.

If you're going to eat these babies now, bake on that same cookie sheet at 375 for 20 minutes, and serve hot.

Not gonna eat 'em now? No problem. toss the cookie sheet into the freezer, and the next morning place the mushrooms into zip lock bags, 12-15 per bag. place frozen caps on cookie sheets, bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

Note on Mushrooms: I bought the ones packaged in the 8oz packages, and some of them were tiny widdle shrooms! So I had a ton of filling left over. If you've got filling left over, no problem - it makes great stuffing for an omelet, and a great sauce tossed with pasta. Use right away, or freeze for later use.

I will post the other recipes as soon as I have time. Happy New Year!