Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Sauce and BOOKS

Firstly, apologies to anyone who wondered if perhaps I had had an accident in the kitchen and was therefore unable to write; what happened instead was I applied for a job, was interviewed, patiently waited to find out if I was hired and was, indeed, hired. Thus I am working towards getting a laptop, so I may write after I cook (and eat, of course) about what I have made, and perhaps, God willing, post photos to prove I have done it.

In the meantime, here are some books I've got recently and am reading; I can't say enough things about them besides get 'em if you don't have them already, and also, if you're making a pumpkin pie from semi-scratch and you put all the condensed milk in by accident instead of some and then mix it up (a little), you can just spoon the extra milk out and hey presto, instant sauce for the pie for the week (just pretend it's French food and it will look quite elegant).


Fieri, Guy - More Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
This book makes me want to visit and revisit my home country in the best way possible - always hungry, always on the road.

Kapranos, Alex - Sound Bites

Rock 'n' roll memoirs from behind the scenes and on the street, all over the world.

Lawson, Nigella - Kitchen

La Lawson will eat anything, as long as she doesn't have to work too hard at it - most of the time. Great hints in the front section, and she has almost 4,000 cookbooks & books about food in her library. I want the list!

Oliver, Jamie - 30 Minute Meals

Sure you have to hustle, but these meals are worth the hustle and are doable with a helper (or two).

Ottolenghi, Yotam - Plenty

Vegetarian food for those who thought they had seen/eaten it all, no tofu required. Already judged a classic, and it just came out this year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Jeepster Pasta

The other day I was dreaming that I was listening to "Jeepster" while making a tomato cream sauce; so of course I had to make this:

Jeepster Pasta

First, get some plum tomatoes (canned, peeled) and put them in a saucepan and heat them up, mooshing away until they look a bit saucy; while doing this get some water boiling for plain and spinach tagliatelle (yes, you need both; this is the surprise in the dish - paglia et fieno, aka straw and hay pasta is awesome*). Slice up some mushrooms while the tomatoes cook (don't boil them but don't leave them at a low heat either) and cook them in some good oil; they will be added to the pasta when it's almost done.

Once the tomatoes are ready, add some cream (double to cut the acidity of the tomatoes) and also a little red chili ("Jeepster" is a hot song, there has to be some heat in here!) and taste and add more cream if it's too hot, more chili - it won't take much - if it's too mild. Once the tagliatelle is done you can put it right in the saucepan and mix, adding the mushrooms in once the pasta is well coated. Serve immediately and eat with garlic bread and a good salad. Good Eats!

*This pasta is available at Sainsbury's and is quite worth it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Salad pt. 2 Foxy Salad

If you don't like the idea of a summer salad with lots of tomatoes, then you should try this - it's good and it's good for you, just because of the walnut content, though salad is always good for you, in my opinion. This one comes from Jamie Oliver's newest book, Jamie Does, and it's from his French chapter, one of utter contentment and satisfaction, which this salad most certainly brings. (It's not called this in his book, obv.; it comes from the story as to how Roquefort cheese was invented, haphazardly.)

Foxy Salad

First, get some interesting salad (no bitter leaf stuff though; rocket is not needed here, though radicchio is okay) and some smoked bacon, preferably lardons. (If you don't have lardons on hand, just get some smoked bacon anyway and cut it into chunks with a knife or scissors.) Also needed are walnuts (the more the merrier, a good handful at least), Roquefort cheese (a little goes a long way) and of course our good friend stale bread (the recipe calls for sourdough, though any basic strong-minded bread will do). Fry up the bacon in some olive oil, cut the bread up into managable pieces and once the bacon fat has come out and mixed with the oil, put in the bread and get it nicely friendly with the fat. Chop up some walnuts in the meantime, and also make a basic dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. (Dijon mustard is ideal here, but American mustard works well too - you should have this dressing be a little more acidic than usual, by the way.)

Then it's a matter of getting it all into a bowl and mixing it up with the dressing, putting it bowls and then and only then slicing pieces of Roquefort and putting them in the salad, not just on top. The nut and cheese combination here is awesome, of course, but the bread and bacon make this a meal to itself; have it with something lemony to drink and praise the French, again!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Salad Pt. 1: Panzanella

For those of you who think (as I do) that you really, really don't want to boil water on an already-boiling day, the answer, plainly, is salad. And not just any salad but a bread salad!

There are two salads I've made recently that went down (so to speak) really well, one for fairly warm weather, the other for blazing hot. Considering it's nearly July, here's the blazing hot one:


First, get some tomatoes and chop them half - little cherry ones, ones on a vine, heritage yellow ones if you want - and some basil (though a bit of mint w/your standard 'fancy' salad will do just as well in a pinch). Then get some bread - stale* says the normal recipe, but if the idea of 'stale' bread is just too long a wait, simply toast your bread, cool it and then cut it up into reasonably-sized pieces. The only 'cooking' as such you need to do here, if you wish, is in one pan, for pancetta/bacon. You may also want to have a bit of oil/vinegar dressing on hand to unify things here, not to mention cucumbers, which work wonders, as does some mozzarella. Toss it all in a big bowl and then tuck in; there are no hard-fast rules here, save that everything has to be fresh and Mediterranean (the salad is originally from Sicily, which means if you want to put raisins or capers in, be my guest). Giada uses cornbread in hers, which sounds v. good, though the concept of 'leftover cornbread' in my household is pretty much inconceivable.

*The bread should be stale enough to soak up the tomato and cucumber and dressing without becoming soggy immediately.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cottagers' Pasta

First, I would like to apologize to anyone who has been looking and looking here for new things - I have been busy, in part learning new kitchen ideas (not techniques, just ideas) and of course finding cookbooks I like by accident on a near-regular basis. I'll be back to those soon, but here is a pasta dish (of course) that I made up in honor of Fulham Football Club, who play at Craven Cottage, hence:

Cottagers' Pasta

This began when I found a bottle of chili and garlic pesto (base: tomatoes) by Jamie Oliver in Fulham - and nowhere else. I had some asparagus and broccoli and ricotta to use for a dish and figured out I could do this!

Fry up some pancetta (in smallish cubes if they aren't like that already, or lardons if you're using bacon) and cut your broccoli into florets & add once the pancetta is starting to add fat to the pan. (You could speed this up by adding olive oil, which is never a bad idea, really.) Snap your asparagus, throw away the tough end and cut the spear end so it looks like penne (you could use penne for this, or farfalle, as I did). Add them to the broccoli and cover with a lid so the veggies' own steam cooks them. Make pasta as usual and make sure your veggies cook without getting too well cooked.

Get a big bowl and put in the pesto (if you don't have this particular pesto, don't worry - sundried tomato pesto with a bit of raw chili & garlic in it will do fine). Once the pasta is done, turn it into the bowl and mix up well; then add pancetta and veggies and stir again. If the pesto is too hot, add some ricotta - it will bind the whole thing together. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Garlic Candy Pasta

Fear not, good readers: my next entry will be here sooner than you think and it won't be about pasta! However, for those of you who do like it (I like it...a lot), here is another recipe, taken from Nigel Slater's excellent Real Fast Food and renamed by me as...

Garlic Candy Pasta

This recipe involves nothing more complex than peeling and then smashing (or smooshing, really; you just get a big knife and press down on the clove horizontally) a lot of garlic. As much as you can stand, and if you're me, that's one head or so for each two people.

So then - get some butterfly/farfalle or penne and some goat's cheese - the kind that is soft & will melt in hot pasta fairly quickly - put them aside and get to peeling the garlic, then smooshing it up and put it in fairly warm (but not super hot) olive oil to cook. Burnt garlic is...unpleasant, but nicely browned/softened garlic is what you're after here. The only other ingredient is thyme, which is also a big deal - you have to have fresh thyme picked off the bunch and this is best done once the garlic is halfway done. Boil the water in the meantime and by the time the pasta is done, the garlic should be too. (Don't rush the garlic; this is a meditative recipe, not a ten-minute one.) Once the pasta is done, pour it into the pan with the garlic and mix it up, adding the goat's cheese until all is creamy white and green-flecked and serve immediately. The garlic will jump out of the pasta like candy, intense and vibrant against the mildness of the cheese, but the thyme will wink out at you as well. Happy eating!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gold Medal Pasta

On Sunday evening I watched, along with my husband, the gold medal game in men's ice hockey from Vancouver; he has written about it here (just in case you missed it, or wanted to read, if I may say so, some damn fine reportage), and I made a pasta last night that I thought would fit the glorious night.

Gold Medal Pasta

The ingredients, as such: spiral pasta (I used trottole, but anything tightly spiraled will do), sausages with a main extra ingredient of apples, a store-bought but good bolognese sauce (sans meat), double cream and chili and parsley.

While you boil the water, squeeze the meat out of the sausages into rough meatballs - they shouldn't be that big and you should have enough to pretty much cover the bottom of your frying pan. Once they are on their way to being golden, add the sauce and let it simmer; add the chili next, chopped up fine. Then add the double cream - cautiously, as you don't want it too rich; just enough to make it change color is enough. Let all of this 'marry' as chefs say, and make the pasta. Once the pasta is done, shake it roughly (remember to keep some water on it; dry pasta is never the ideal, certainly isn't here) and add it to the sauce, mixing thoroughly. Add parsley next however you like, in full or chopped leaf, and mix again and serve immediately.

The impact of all the ingredients here is much bigger than you would expect. The apple is key; you would think that it would clash with the rich tomato sauce (which is Loyd Grossman's by the way), but it doesn't. Tomatoes are, after all, fruit, and the apple is spiky and brave enough to be noticed, without overshadowing the tomato in question. This recipe doesn't need any extra cheese or pepper; just some nice ginger ale to go with it and salad on the side. Bon Appetit!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tricolore Spring

Recently (last night, that is) I made up a dish; actually it is hard to say whether I made it up or just had it stuck in the back of my & cookbook-friendly mind, or what. But here it is; it is relatively quick, contains almost no chopping besides the broccoli and I think it tastes quite fine.

Tricolore Spring

You will need some spaghetti; some pancetta and/or bacon lardons (I had a bit of both left, so I used both); some broccoli and garlic and chili.

First, get a pan and put some olive oil in - not too much, just enough for the pancetta/bacon to get going. Slice up some garlic - finely but you don't have to be too fine about it, and put that in with the meat. At the same time, break up a few pieces of broccoli into little florets, as much as you will think you will need. (I used half a head for two people.) Once the broccoli is done steaming (I think it's best steamed, as opposed to boiled), put it in the pan and get the water boiling (new fresh water of course, if you have been using a colander) again for the pasta. Carefully slice up some red chili and put in as much as you like, keeping in mind that a little goes a long way. Add more olive oil and stir, until the individual ingredients become a whole; this takes about as long as the water takes to boil. Then make your spaghetti and once it is done add it to the pan, carefully pulling and pushing the pasta around, stirring it well. Serve with fresh Parmesan on top. The broccoli is the real star here, though the garlic, which will naturally hide at the bottom of the pan (we only got ours at the end) will be quite glorious as well.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Haphazard Toasted Ravioli

It is about time I wrote here, really; I am continuing, haphazardly, to collect recipes and books (I got Jamie Oliver's Cook With Jamie for my birthday and a week later was generously given his Jamie At Home a week later) and in my slow way try things out. One of the things I love to do is make brown butter and use some kind of ravioli for the pasta; one of the problems of serving pasta is keeping it warm. How to keep it warm in the pan? Well, keep the heat on, of course! The stovetop has 2 (not warm enough), 3 (still not warm enough, but getting there) and 4, which is nice and toasty indeed. So last night, because I was serving garlic bread and salad as well, I didn't put all the ravioli on the plate - so I kept the ravioli on 4 and we ate at our regular pace (not slow but not that fast either). So by the time we got to the last serving, the ravioli (little sack-shaped ones, to be precise) were rather browned and toasty and crisp and most excellent. (Yes, I know the solution to this would be to heat up the plates in the first place, but I always forget and can't tell if I can heat them in the microwave or not, which doesn't exactly help.)

In the meantime, I am thinking of making a new dessert based on a stunning chocolate-dipped lime cookie - some nice Green & Blacks chocolate ice cream with some fresh lime juice and maybe even some zest on it as well. I know that sounds odd but the combination is like seeing a new flower; a real pleasure. (Also, I now have a French orange plastic mouli for legumes and can't wait to make something with it; Elizabeth David, I feel, would be wondering what took me so long, but c'est ca and I hope to continue with my charity shop finds.)