Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pasta pastiche "There you go again"

There you go again (said the little voice in my head as I gazed in bemused wonderment at this collection of stuff I had put into a single dish for dinner).

Flashback to earlier in the day: sitting on my kitchen counter was a perfectly formed acorn squash. I had just had a thought which will probably haunt me during the night tonight: what if there were a squirrel large enough to carry the acorn squash in its teeth and bury it?

Revelation of the day: microwaved that squash by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds (saved for roasting), and nuking it for 6 minutes. Perfectly done. Doused in butter, sauteed and mashed, it became part of the one-dish wonder, serving it's master as a sauce.

Two hotdog-like brats were lurking in the fridge. Brussels sprouts were crying out to have their outer leaves stripped and sauteed for a few minutes in butter and oil.

Half a box of cooked penne (doused with EVOO to prevent sticking) was waiting to be needed in the event of a power outage due to that evil woman, Sandy. Parmesan remained dedicated to the daily grind.

When these culinary characters leapt together into a very large saute pan and got hot, they took on the call of a Siren luring me to the island of delection and delight.

No, I'm not drunk, just full, full, full. People, if only our ponderous political candidates could come together the way this dish did. They wouldn't run for office, they'd give up everything in a quest for Michelin stars.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Coldcut loaf

Here's a kinky bit from my repertoire. It's construction is very straight-forward and it's ingredients are entirely negotiable. Here are some choices: some or all - mortadella, salami, boiled ham, pressed turkey or chicken breast, bologna, pepperoni, prosciutto, and some cheese. I would like to have used capicola but couldn't get it at my Giant. I used some Mexican queso fresco which is much like mozzarella. Grease up a glass loaf pan and layer in the meats and cheese in any order you prefer. Cover with foil and place a weight on top. Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Let cool and then refrigerate for a couple of hours before slicing and serving as an appetizer, an amuse bouche, or a filling for a rollup or a sandwich. It's fun, it's tasty, it's me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lamb curry

I had not made a curry (until today) in years. My inspiration came from having about a pound of leftover leg of lamb from Sunday's dinner. The only thing I needed to buy was a can of coconut milk. If you need a recipe for this just do what I did - go to Google. I jotted down the names of the ingredients but nothing else. When I measure it's by pinches of my fingers or little mounds in my palm. As aside: my step-father had one redeeming feature, he had been a cook in the army during WWII and made pie dough by measuring flour in his hands, pinching off pieces of butter from a slightly softened brick of it, and adding whatever he needed by feel. Those pie doughs were good, good, good. It takes some time and some courage to build yourself up to the point where you throw things together with panache (I always keep a jar of panache in my fridge lol). I could have served this over rice, but I had a great big baking potato I cooked in the microwave. It became a one-dish meal (well, one dish plus the salad we had on the side).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Potato and carrot timbales

I am inordinately pleased when I create something and it moves from my imagination to the dinner plate. This timbale fits the bill today. I must tell you that the photo is courtesy of a free share site called Photobucket. My timbales had some orange layers - carrot julienne. As molds I use old tuna cans, the sort that allow you to remove both ends. On another occasion, and if I were making more than two timbales at a time, I might use a muffin pan. Timbale is French-ish for a drum - hence the shape. The layering, baking and the cheese can result in a marvelous texture and flavor. In this case I brought those qualities to the party. Amazing, ain't I?

Potato/carrot timbales (2 servings)
2 potatoes (3 inch diameter)
1/2 cup fine julienne of carrot
2 tbs butter
gruyere, cheddar or the cheese you like
parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Poke a few slits in the potatoes and microwave them for about 3 minutes. They should be nearly cooked through. Let them cool, then slice thinner than 1/4 inch.

Nuke the carrots for 60-90 seconds until tender but still firm.

Rub butter all over the insides of two ring molds. Layer the timbale thus: potato slices, carrot, bits of butter, gruyere. Repeat, making at least three layers. Press the layers down with the bottom of a jar or drinking glass. Top generously with parmesan cheese.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Corned beef, cabbage and potatoes

A while back (three weeks to be exact) I started curing my own corned beef at home. I finished it yesterday by rinsing the cure off it and simmering it for 3 hours in a low oven. The kinky thing about this is that I did not use brisket; I used two different hunks of chuck. We'll be eating it for dinner tonight (although I've sampled it - and it's superb). The worst thing about this is waiting for it to be ready. Find a recipe for corned beef via Google. It's easy, peasy to do.

I thought about making a traditional boiled dinner, but I'm not a traditional kind of guy. I sauteed cabbage wedges in a bit of oil with ground caraway seed, butter, and salt and pepper.

I wanted to make a potato timbale, but didn't feel I had quite the time I needed. Another day soon. I went with some simple potatoes, initially cooked in the microwave for a few minutes and then saute lightly with butter, salt and pepper.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chicken pot pie (no, you can't smoke it)

Herewith is yours truly's very first attempt at chicken pot pie. If it isn't worth a gold medal, it's at least a silver. I won't take too much credit for it, I did follow a recipe more or less (those who know me know how rare it is for me to follow anything). One thing that attracted me to this particular plan was that it calls for two crusts. The addition of potatoes was my idea, the cooked chicken thigh meat was leftovers from the weekend (it could be cooked chicken breast if you are blackmailed into only buying that), the crusts were Pillsbury, the patting on the back - totally my own. I did the preparations in my own way to make it as simple as possible. (My favorite song is "I did it my way" by you-know-who.)

Chicken pot pie
2 supermarket pie crusts
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 medium potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes or smaller
1 medium carrot, same size as the potato
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
celery seed to taste
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup AP flour
2/3 cups milk

Place one pie crust in the bottom of a deep 9-inch pie pan. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the chicken stock in a large saute pan along with the potato, carrot, celery, onion, salt, pepper and celery seed. Bring to a simmer and cook maybe 10 minutes until the carrots are tender. Remove to a bowl and add in the peas. Pour the broth into a measuring cup and add more to it to come up to 1 3/4 cups.
Melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking while it cooks for 2 minutes. Whisk in the broth and milk. Bring to a simmer and keep stirring until it thickens.
Place the vegetables in the pie pan. Pour the gravy over the top. Stir it a bit carefully to get the gravy to merge down into the veggies.
Cover with the other pie crust and pinch the edges together. Cut a few slits in the crust to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust is brown and all else is bubbling.
Let it sit for 10 minutes to avoid pizza mouth. Serve with a nice salad.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I started out thinking I was inventing this dish. But when I Googled "pasta pudding" in order to get some basic parameters/proportions for a custard-like dish, up popped pasta pudding, making use of spaghetti. I wanted to use Israeli couscous in order to make it resemble a savory tapioca pudding. I succeeded pretty much completely. A couple ingredients are my own substitutions and were perfectly viable. The only thing I would change another time would be to increase the amount of cheese (perhaps use 2 varieties for ... well, variety) and put some cheese on top to melt during the final minutes of baking. All that aside, this was fun to make and really fun to eat. Peter and I had generous portions of it at three separate dinners.

Pasta pudding
1 cup Israeli couscous, cooked according to package directions (using broth or salted water will increase its flavor
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
14 oz can of fat-free evaporated milk
3 beaten eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated, naturally)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Grease a 7 or 8 inch square (or similar area) casserole with Pam or butter.

Put the pasta pudding mix into this and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes clean from the center. Allow to cool for a few minutes so that you don't get pizza mouth. Add some additional grated cheese on top if you wish.

Tuesday Tag-Along

Tuesday Tag-Along

Foodie BlogRoll