Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Great Steak!

So, my sister-in-law told me about this recipe, and I just had to make it. She came over with some filets mignon, and I defrosted some venison cutlets, and then I turned this 30-minute meal into more like a 100-minute meal! But, before you navigate away from my blog forever, just give me a moment to defend Rachael Ray. Yes, perhaps she is a bit too commercial these days, with the dog food and the Dunkin' Donuts, but the truth is that she has a lot of creative recipes that are straightforward and delicious. And admit it, if Dunkin' Donuts offered you untold bazillions of dollars, you'd take the money and run even if it made you look a little silly. I know I would!!! Here's a link to the wonderful, albeit awkwardly-named dish:

One thing that I like about these recipes is that they both use methods that I would not have come up on my own. Making pasta sauce out of roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic, with herbs, cheese and pasta cooking water? Sounds crazy, but it was crazy good. And pan frying steaks, then topping them with herbs and blue cheese to finish in the oven? Even better than the pasta! So don't be anti-Rachael, just try this dish!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Homemade Cheese and Ravioli

I made homemade ricotta cheese. Not my invention, it was by way of Smitten Kitchen, http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/06/fresh-ricotta-and-red-onion-pizza/ who got it from Michael Chiarello, by way of the New York Times. I never said I was original.

It was easy, and it worked! And then we had to make ravioli. Which were amazing even though I totally cheated and used wonton skins instead of homemade pasta. I had an offer from a friend to teach me how to make homemade pasta (you know who you are - I want that pasta-making lesson one of these days!). I stuffed the ravioli with ricotta, thawed and squeezed frozen spinach, and chopped prosciutto. This is similar to a Giada recipe, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/prosciutto-ravioli-recipe/index.html but I served them with marinara sauce instead.

I made extra and put them in the freezer. Let's hope they don't explode when I try to cook them!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good Soup/Bad Soup

I've been trying to come up with a reason to tell you about a recent, minor kitchen disaster, and my hero Mark Bittman gave me a good one in the New York Times this week. He describes a soup he had in Tuscany which was excellent but not something that he or an experienced cook would have come up with spontaneously. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, so I made it for lunch today. The picture is a bit blurry, but that's it above. Delicious, fresh-tasting and easy. Now for the not-so successful soup...
A couple weeks ago, I was totally uninspired and not in a cooking mood. I got out the LAST can of Campbell's Tomato Soup, and proceeded to pour in 1/2 a can of water and 1/2 can of milk. After it heated up a bit, I noticed that it had nasty looking clumps in it. The milk was spoiled. NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pretty Healthy but Really Good Snack Cake

The first time I made this cake I was inspired by the overripe bananas on the counter. It seemed like this cake would be better than the typical banana bread recipe. "Better" doesn't even begin to describe how good this cake is!
The source is King Arthur Flour: Whole Grain Baking. The Banana Crunch Cake recipe uses oat flour (conveniently made of oats chopped to flour in your food processor), whole wheat flour, yogurt, nuts, and optional chocolate chips. You then mix a topping of oats, brown sugar, and more nuts. I used less sugar than the recipe calls for; judge this by your audience. It's a wonderful cake, warm or cold. No need for ice cream or whipped cream, it's that delicious on its own, but you can justify eating it for breakfast. I call that a winner.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Asian Chicken Pasta Salad

I wanted to make a salad with leftover Hainanese chicken (from the always-wonderful Mark Bittman: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/17/dining/17mini.html ). You must make this chicken. The only thing I do differently than Mark is for the sauce I use a few dashes of toasted sesame oil, a couple Tablespoons soy sauce, chopped scallions, and some water to mellow it out.

I read several recipes on food blogs for ideas, and then I made it with the ingredients I had on hand. It turned out to be really good. And it always feels nice and healthy to eat a salad!


leftover shredded Hainanese chicken

cooked whole wheat spaghetti

shredded carrots

shredded red cabbage

shredded celery


1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon chopped ginger

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 Tablespoons water

Toss pasta, chicken and vegetables in a bowl. Bell peppers, cucumber, scallions, etc. would also be great.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a mini-chopper or blender, pour over salad and toss to combine.
I didn't crop the photo so you could see just a small part of the mess I make in the kitchen. Poor Dan!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Something different

One day, during the daily what's-for-dinner discussion, I was drawing a complete blank. I was so sick of my own cooking I couldn't stand it. Everything I cook tastes exactly the same, I thought.

Then I looked through one of my favorite cookbooks, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate. This book is amazing in the way that it makes Indian food accessible for someone who would never be able to cook it intuitively, like me.

I had some ground lamb in the freezer, so when I paged through to the recipe for Lamb Meatballs in a Spicy Malabari Curry, I knew I had found my dish. I served this with brown basmati rice and Simple Cabbage Stir Fry from the same book. Incredible, and it was so good we didn't have any leftovers. Buy this book.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm back

I got a bit out of my routine in February, and I guess it took me all of March to get over it! Bad blogger!

I made some delicious turkey lasagne for company one night, so here it is:

2 pounds ground turkey (I use the all white meat kind)

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

olive oil

2 boxes no boil lasagne noodles

3 cups basic tomato sauce

1 pound mozzarella, shredded

2 cups whole milk

4 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

1 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine turkey, garlic, herbs and wine; let sit for 10 minutes. Brown turkey in olive oil and combine with tomato sauce. Make bechamel by heating butter, whisking in flour, cook 2 minutes without browning. Add milk and whisk until bubbling and thickened. Spread a little tomato/turkey sauce on bottom of baking dish, top with lasagne noodles. Don't worry if there is a little space, the noodles will expand as they cook. Put more tomato sauce on noodles, sprinkle with mozzarella and grated cheese. Pour over 1/3 of bechamel. Top with 2 more layers of noodles, tomato sauce, cheeses, then bechamel, topping all with whatever cheese is left. Bake 45 minutes to one hour, until hot, bubbly and browned. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.