Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spaghetti with cheese and black pepper

This basic recipe came from SmittenKitchen by way of my sister, Doodles. She thought this dish would taste wonderful in my new pasta bowls. She was right it was tasty but made too much for just the two of us. I had half the dish leftover (more about the leftovers later.)

This is a pretty simple pasta dish but does, in my opinion, require a very good cheese and since I was ready to splurge I picked up some Parmesano Reggiano at Whole Paycheck. Seventeen bucks a pound but since there is nothing else in this recipe to mask the flavor of the cheese so go for the best.

Also grind your own pepper. It calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons but I used more. I love pepper and for this dish I used smoked peppercorns. Giving it a lightly smoked flavor. Your call. I also used penne instead of spaghetti.

What's great about this recipe is it's a start to as many variations as you can think of and I tried a bit of a twist with the leftovers. Here's what I did:

Fry one slice of bacon crisp and removed from pan, chop finely and set aside. To the pan add half cup finely diced leftover tri-tip steak. Fry gently in the bacon fat and add the leftover pasta. If it's dry add water a few tablespoons at a time. Toss with tongs and remove to bowls. Top with the reserved bacon and more cheese. A little chopped parsley couldn't hurt, now could it?

There ya go, a simple pasta two different ways. This is a recipe I'll keep and use again because I love quick and easy meals for nights when I just don't want to cook. As long as you keep your pantry stocked with the basics you're home free.

Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper [Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe]
Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a first course

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound dried spaghetti

2 tablespoons butter

4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated

1 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Salt (optional)
Cook spaghetti in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. (You’ll have fewer dishes to wash if you use this pot to assemble the dish as well.) Drain spaghetti, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.

Dry out your pot, then heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add drained spaghetti and 1 cup of reserved pasta water and jump back, this will splatter mightily, also known as “I made this three times, and never once learned my lesson. Do as I say, not as I do.”
Add butter, 3 ounces cheese and ground pepper and toss together with tongs. Taste, adding more pasta water, cheese, pepper or salt (which should not be necessary, as Romano is very salty) to taste.

Serve immediately, sprinkling with reserved cheese and an extra grind or two of black pepper.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Throw me somethin' mister

My friend Crystal, who was born in New Orleans, told the story of how she got her name. When they'd pass by this sign her momma 'n them would tell her that's where they got the idea for her name, Crystal Preserves. I found this photo on the Crystal Hot Sauce site. It made me smile because our dear Crystal died a few years back and I sure do miss her, especially around Mardi Gras. Even though she was transplanted to California she always planned our Mardi Gras "feast" at work complete with "throws" she'd collected. She was a doll.

Sorry you're not with us anymore Crystal but, wherever you are, I know you've written and directed a play, sewed all the costumes--and made a great pot of red beans and rice for the after party.

Let the good times roll,
Crystal M. St. Romain
July 8, 1957 - May 16, 2003

In Crystal's honor I made a big pot of Red Beans and Rice. Everyone has their favorite recipes and I'm no different, but I did tweak it a bit. I didn't simmer the beans on the top of the stove but here's what I did.
  • Soak one pound of beans over night in four quarts of water and three tablespoons salt.
  • Drain and rinse the beans and add them to ovenproof pot with onions, celery, green pepper and a ham bone. Then cover with water and bring to a simmer.
  • Place the covered pot in a 250 degree pre-heated oven to cook for one hour. Test the beans and cook longer if not done. They should be soft throughout.
This is a great way to cook the beans. The skins were not tough but the bean was not falling apart, either. I always mash half the beans and they were nice and creamy. I added some smoked sausage and it was a fine pot of beans but since I'm the only one that eats Red Beans, I had to freeze the rest. None will go to waste because this is a dish that freezes well.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Potato Pancakes

a bit different but tasty pancake. Found this in a Bed and Breakfast cookbook that sister and I have traded back and forth for several years.

I am giving you this recipe from memory because I'll be darned if I can find the actual cookbook.

5 medium potatoes to end up with approx.
1 1/2 cup shredded
1 bunch green onions cut small include some of the green
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
salt & pepper to taste
canola oil for frying

Sometimes I cheat and use a package of already shredded potatoes. Don't judge me I live in an RV and space is valuable lol!! Whichever potato you use be sure to squeeze the moisture out of them. Try two clean dish towels that usually works well for me.

In a large bowl mix together all of the above ingredients except the oil, put some oil in the frying pan heat to a medium high. While you are frying up the pancakes keep a piece of plastic wrap over the mixture sometimes it will discolor if you don't.

Make a patty, put the mixture in a medium hot pan, let set for a minute but don't let burn. Serve the pancakes as you make them because they do not hold well in a warmer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

How we do it: hamburger

Let me ask a question: what kind of hamburger do you buy?
  • I examine each package for fat content
  • I buy what's on sale
  • I throw in one of those plastic sleeves of hamburger because I can't stand the look of ground meat.
If I had a meat grinder I'd grind my own meat. I'm not so sure what actually goes into the hamburger coming out of the large processing plants and I'm not so sure I want to know. Your local (add your favorite market) does not grind their own meat for hamburger. Once they did but for some reason they decided butchers were too expensive to have around each store and now it comes from a town far, far away. Well, unless you live near a meat processing plant but I think our meat comes from Pleasanton, CA and anyway, I like to know just what is in my ground meat.

A few months ago I noticed Von's had a boneless chuck roast for sale and asked the man stocking the bins if he could grind this for me. Oh, it was his pleasure and was back in just a few minutes with my ground chuck. And when I cooked this hamburger it actually tasted like something other than cardboard; it tasted like beef. Imagine that. So when I hand the butcher my chuck roast it comes back just that chuck roast and nothing else.

I've been fortunate to find boneless chuck roasts on sale. This one was $2.99 a pound and I don't think that's too much for good tasting chopped meat. I'll leave it up to you but I now look for roasts on sale and when I do we have dinners like meatballs or meatloaf or chili, but the chili, that's another post.

If you try this let us know. Do you taste a difference or if you think this is way too much trouble and just buy one of those plastic sleeve o'meat.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Give-away winner

Our winner for the give-away was chosen very scientifically. The names for both sites were written down, cut into strips, and put in a hat. They, one name picked out. Check out the Facebook page for the winner.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Valentine's Day Give-away

Since PBE has expanded to Facebook (see badge at left) we thought we'd celebrate by having a give-away. Valentine's Day is Sunday and we'd like to add some Fans to our Facebook page. To win the prize, a hand-made felt Valentine pin, simply answer this question in the comments. Now, you might have received or given this gift but, tell us what made it so memorable.

What was your best Valentine's Day gift, ever?

Winner will be chosen at random from the combined comments on Blogger and Facebook so only comment once, please. All comments must be made by Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 9:00 a.m PST; we want to mail your prize in time for the big holiday. Winner will be announced on Wednesday afternoon. If the winner is outside the US you most likely won't get it by the 14Th but, we'll try. Good luck!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Superbowl snacks

Planning a Superbowl party on Sunday? Here's a great snack that is easy and fit for either Colts or Saints fans. I've made this for many a party and never had to worry about leftovers. Enjoy.

Smokey Chipotle Hummus
2 15 oz cans garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chilies*
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 4-ounce jar sliced pimientos in oil, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
bagel chips or flat bread

Blend garbanzo beans and next 7 ingredients in processor until smooth. For a thinner or more spicy hummus use more oil or chipotle chilies, if desired. Add pimientos; process until pimientos are coarsely chopped. Transfer hummus to a medium bowl. Stir in cilantro. Season hummus to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. Can be made one day in advance. Bring to room temperature before serving. Accompany with bagel chips or flat bread torn in bite-sized pieces.

* To save the leftover canned chipotle chilies puree the remainder and scoop tablespoons on foil-lined cookie sheet and freeze until solid. Peel off the foil and store in zip-lock bag.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Meatloaf: revisited

This post has two purposes; a new method for meatloaf and a product review.

For the past few years I've been trying to recreate my Mom's meatloaf. I loved it but can't seem to hit on the exact recipe. It's not from trying but since my beloved doesn't love meatloaf like I do I don't try it too often. My last attempt Meatloaf on the Grill was a very complicated, many ingredient recipe from America's Test Kitchen. Though tasty, it was not what I was looking for plus it had way too many ingredients and prep.

As they often do, ATK had revisited the recipe and created different. Far less steps and indredients but more of a change in procedure. Check out their website for the recipe or adjust your own favorite but here might be the secret.
  • Add crushed saltine crackers instead of breadcrumbs.
  • Saute whatever vegetables you use. I like onion and celery.
  • Use a mixture of plain yogurt, egg and Dijon mustard.
Now for the product review. For Christmas I'd requested a French Blue Steel skillet and got a wonderful de Buyer pan. It's 12" with an extra handle because this sucker is heavy and that handle makes it easier to get in and out of the oven. It browns meat perfectly and even doubles as a roasting pan.

Treat it just like any cast iron pan, make sure you season it first and don't wash it with soap and don't let food sit in the pan. I wipe out the pan and "scour" it with kosher salt then run water and scrub with a hard bristle brush. Rinse, dry and wipe a bit of vegetable oil in the pan and good to go. I've yet to have a problem with sticking.

Here I'm using it to bake my meat loaf. Always put a tiny bit of oil in the pan before putting in the meat.

The recipe calls for bacon to be wrapped over the meatloaf and baked until the bacon is crispy and internal temp is 160 degrees. Don't forget to let it rest for 20 minutes.

Very good, not my mom's but I liked to just the same. Now, my beloved isn't that crazy about meatloaf so he drowns it in ketchup. I think I like it cold in sandwiches the best but since he's not a fan I don't usually make it for just the two of us. Wanna come to dinner?