Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hey Mambo, you mixed up Sicialiano

Another great, easy and meatless pasta dish, this time from America's Test Kitchen. It couldn't be easier and a wonderful light main course or starter. Most Pestos are heavy with the oil, garlic and basil and this hits all those notes, just softer. Hot or cold it does well.

Sicilian Pesto Pasta
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted
2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup basil leaves plus a few for garnish
small clove of garlic
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 peperoncini, chopped

Throw all of the above in a food processor and blend until everything is chopped. While running, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and blend. Then stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook 1 pound of spaghetti or linguine pasta in salted water and reserve a cup of cooking water.

Toss the pesto with the hot pasta using a little of the cooking water if it is too thick. Serve with a few chopped basil leaves and more cheese.

This is one of my new pasta bowls; I love them. Tell me why I didn't buy more? This is good hot but I served it cold the next day and just as yummy. I let it come to room temp before serving.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You say catsup..........I say ketchup

the cast of characters
either way you spell or say it you know you can make your own.  Why would anyone want to do that you say.......one word TASTE.

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1/2 cup of vinegar  I used apple cider & rice wine
1/2 cup of sweetener I used brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt unless your paste has a hefty amount of sodium already
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 1/4 cups water   I started out with 1 cup
optional seasonings***

Combine all the ingredients, except for the optional seasonings, in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce the heat to low.
Simmer the mixture gently, stirring frequently, for approximately thirty minutes, or until it thickens to the consistency of ketchup.

Taste and adjust the seasoning to balance out the flavors, adding a bit more of any of the flavor components according to your preferences. Add one or more of the optional seasonings, if desired.

Continue cooking for two to three more minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Let the ketchup cool.
there it is 24 oz of pure ketchup

Store ketchup in a covered container in the refrigerator.  Unless you have some preservatives hanging around in your pantry this will only keep no more than a month I'm thinking.

***Optional seasonings would be to your pleasure.  Spice it up with cayenne pepper, a smokey paprika, even some Middle Eastern spices. 

So when we are having that yummy grilled buffalo  burger in a few weeks my, my ketchup is gonna taste great.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Cast Iron Beef and Noodles

Yes, I know, I'm like a one string banjo when it comes to cooking outside but I've truly come to love this. It might be that old pioneer coming out. I mean, we did come to Simi Valley in the '70s when there wasn't much here but a few housing tracks. That's a bit of a stretch because they did have a drive-in theater. Who can say why but I love to cook and this is an extension of that love.

So, rather than bore you with the instructions I'll add a new recipe I've found for noodles. I usually make them with all-purpose flour but picked up a package of Bob's Red Mill at Whole Paycheck. Their product is worth the extra cost and thought I give their recipe a try. I've always been a fan of home made noodles bu this makes such a wonderful textured noodle I think I'm hooked.

I like to use a little all-purpose flour with the semolina and I use my food processor to do the kneading. I'm not lazy, just … well, I am lazy. Do what you want. I will use a pasta machine to roll out and cut the noodles but try doing it yourself. There's nothing like hand cut to show that they didn't come from a package. Plus they are always a bit chewier when they are hand rolled and cut.
  • 1 1/2 Cup Semolina ( I use 1 1/4 semolina and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Combine Semolina Flour and sea salt. ADD beaten eggs ( or egg whites), water and oil. Mix to make a stiff dough. Knead 10 minutes or until dough is elastic. Wrap dough in a towel or place in plastic bag and let rest for 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to desired thickness and cut as desired. Bring large pot of water containing 1/2 tsp. oil to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender.
Here is the cast of characters:

Celery, onions, and carrots; cut into small pieces
3 cups of beef broth
2 cup of chicken broth
about 2 cups of shredded beef

Saute the veggies in a bit of oil and add the broth and meat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the veggies are soft. Throw in the noodles fresh made noodles. If you use packaged or dried noodles you'll need some additional broth or water as they'll soak up that broth like a thirsty sailor.

Slowly simmer until the noodles are tender. Try not to stir too vigorously or the noodles will fall apart. When you use the home made noodles your broth will thicken a bit from the extra flour on the noodles. If not add a little roux and cook until thickened. I think these types of dishes are better the next day but after working this hard, it's usually right to the table.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Coconut Pie; oh my!

If I had a family coat of arms it would be a chicken on a field of noodles wearing a coconut hat; that's if I had a crest. I will undoubtedly choose coconut over any other candy and love spring because Passover comes with the most delicious macaroons but that's for another post.

Last week was spent on the edge of the Arizona desert with my sister, Doodles and her husband and their somewhat rambunctious young cat, Bogart. Given enough time together Doodles and I will always find an antique shop to poodle through and this trip the find was an 8 inch glass pie plate.

My stove at home has a small, nine inch wide side oven and I've been trying to find a pie plate for about two years. Doodles is a full-time gypsy and her RV has a small oven as well. You can only imagine the joy we both experienced to find not one but a stack of old class pie plates; we each bought one.

When I got home I was dying to try it. Well, I was needing something sweet and it was sitting on my counter. Any who, I made a blind pie shell and got out my Bird's custard. Since the pie is so small I thought one pint would be enough. It should have been a bit more but it worked. Bird's is quite easy to use just add the milk and a bit of sugar. I toast my coconut because I love that flavor and texture and it's easy in a dry skillet. Toast twice as much as you need because you'll find yourself nibbling on it as the pie cools in the fridge. Or, that might just be me.

To the pud I added a handful, or so, of coconut and pour it into the shell. Just a word of warning; make sure you cook your pudding long enough or you'll have, what are darling mother used to refer to as, "spoon" pie. Not a complete failure but the filling was a bit soft which meant the whipped cream topping pushed it out of shape and when cut, the filling gushed out the sides. As a matter of fact it was mostly whipped cream but when has that ever been a bad things.

A little hint for whipping the cream, to the 1 cup of heavy cream, whipped to a very soft peak, I added 3 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar and about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Then whipped the heck out of it. Don't forget to sprinkle on a bit of toasted coconut just in case you forget what kind of pie it is. Yeah, like that would happen.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

What no sourdough bread!!!

Woke this a.m. thinking of french toast.  It was a icky windy cold nite and the weather doesn't look much like it's going to improve.  Comfort food on cold windy days yummm!!!

French toast will help but I am all out of sourdough bread OH wait I have sourdough english muffins that'll work right.

Here ya go..............

Preheat your oven to 350* yes your oven.  Now whisk 2 eggs, 3/4 cup of milk (any kind) and half & half.  I did that cause I didn't have a full amount of either.  Couple a pinches of cinnamon if you want,  some good vanilla and a pinch of salt.

I split apart 6 muffins then heat some butter in a nonstick skillet  over medium heat.  Dip the muffins in the egg & milk mixture and cook in skillet 2-3 minutes per side.  Add more butter if you need.  Now as the pieces brown place on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. 

The pieces brown in the skillet then finish cooking in the oven.  And when they come out they are puffy and delicious.....................see!!