Monday, May 20, 2013
We wrapped up last week with this spinach artichoke pasta from the Pioneer Woman.
Like most of the Pioneer Woman's recipes, this one was easy and quick. It also made a ton, but fortunately, we had a friend over for dinner to help us eat it all.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
When I think of biscotti, I think of hard, inedible, stale cookies. I'm afraid that if I ever ate the biscotti I see in coffeeshops, I would crack a tooth. I really don't find biscotti appealing, and though (I believe) the idea is that you're supposed to dip it in your coffee, that makes it even less appealing.
You're probably wondering why I bothered to bake biscotti, but this biscotti is different. Trust me.
Drew's mom is an avid baker, and if memory serves me correctly, on my first visit to meet his family, among the array of baked goods was biscotti. I almost passed it up, but Drew practically inhaled it, so I had to see what all the fuss was about. I'm glad I did. This biscotti was definitely not hard, crunchy, or stale. It was really, really good, and I too began inhaling it. In fact, I believe that Drew mom's baked us another batch.
I usually bake on Sundays, but I was indecisive last Sunday and couldn't decide what to bake, so I let Drew decide (sometimes I poll him for input but he doesn't make the decision unilaterally because I usually have some ideas) and he decided that he wanted chocolate almond biscotti. It seemed fitting that I bake something from his mom's repertoire on Mother's Day.
I packed the biscotti with chopped almonds and chocolate chips, which was simultaneously a good and bad idea. It made it difficult to slice after the first bake- I began slicing it too quickly and it crumbled, and I unleashed a string of profanities- but the almonds and chocolate are what makes the biscotti so good.
Monday, May 13, 2013
It never occurred to me to make falafel until I dated Drew. In fact, I'm not sure I had even heard of falafel, but it is something you become well acquainted with when you are a vegetarian or you date one. We're tried various recipes, mostly from the Food Network, and they are virtually indistinguishable (the link is to the one we used this time).
Falafel is very easy to make (but that's not why Drew was in charge of it) because you can process all the ingredients in the food processor. Glancing at the recipe, I know that Drew omitted the cilantro (he's not a fan) and the parsley (I'm not a fan). I know he included the garlic, scallions, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and lemon, but knowing Drew, it is highly probable that he played around and added some other seasonings and knowing me, I wasn't paying any attention.
We used to deep fry the falafel, but lately we've been baking it instead (inspired by a friend who bakes hers in muffin tins). I refuse to fry anything because 1) ) deep frying is very unhealthy, and 2) I'm too lazy to do it. And so Drew knows that if he wants something fried, he has to do it. I must be rubbing off on him because he decided to bake the falafel (and then finish it off with a pan fry, minimal oil) and I didn't even have to persuade him to do it.
I made the sweet potato wedges, which consists of olive oil, Tony Chachere's creole seasoning (I know, I know, the sodium level is through the roof, so I go easy on it), and cayenne pepper. I baked them, but my wedges were kind of soggy. I think the trick must be to par-boil the potatoes first, but that's just one step too many for me. Really, the trick is probably to deep fry the wedges, but that's not happening given my reasons above.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
As I write this on a day that probably reached 90 degrees, it's hard to believe that just a few days ago, it felt like a perfect fall day. Fall brings with it apples, and so it was only fitting that we made apple puffy pancake.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
While snickerdoodles are one of Drew's favorite treats (shocking because they don't have a trace of chocolate!), I'm not such a huge fan. In fact, I don't really see the appeal. I mean, I like them, but they're just so simple and so not showstoppers at all. After all, they're just cinnamon, sugar, butter, flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, and salt. So not surprisingly, I've made these only two other times in my life.
While paging through my Baked Elements cookbook, I was intrigued by the recipe for Brown Butter Snickerdoodles. I'm a sucker for brown butter, ever since I made a Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake, which is quite possibly the best thing I've ever baked in my entire life. Despite my ambivalence with snickerdoodles, this recipe had me at "brown butter" (old movie reference-do you get it? It's from Jerry McGuire, circa the late 1990s. That I just referred to a movie released while I was in high school as old makes me a little sad.).
Anyway, I had a bit of a tough time browning the butter. Not like it was hard or anything, what I mean is that I had a difficult time detecting when it was "done." I followed the directions, cooked it for the recommended number of minutes and until it reached the appropriate color, but my sense of smell was off and I couldn't smell if it was sufficiently browned. Given that I ate 5 cookies yesterday (2 for breakfast, and 3 for dessert after dinner), which is very unusual, I'm guessing that 1) I must be a huge fan of brown butter, and 2) it was sufficiently brown.
Let me say a few words about the Baked cookbook (and this will explain why I was eating cookies for breakfast). This is the 3rd Baked cookbook, and I have all three. For the most part, I like them, though the recipes have many steps, seem a little high maintenance, and usually require some advance planning. As long as you plan in advance, it helps alleviate the high maintenance aspect. And best of all, the results are terrific, so it's all worth it. If you make any of the cookies, you can pretty much count on chilling the dough from 1 hour to up to 24. I made the cookie dough on Monday morning and baked the cookies on Tuesday morning...hence cookies for breakfast. In my defense, there is almost nothing better than fresh baked cookies straight out of the oven.
Monday, May 6, 2013
The garden, despite the random gopher appearance, is doing pretty well. Along with beans, carrots, collard greens, and red chard, we have beets. Lately, our preferred way of eating beets is in a salad.
Did you know that you can wrap beets up in aluminum foil and roast them in your oven? And that you don't even have to peel them first? Or cut them up? And after they're done, the skins easily slip off. This was news to me, but now I'm a huge fan. I roasted the beets for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees, and after they cooled off, I effortlessly peeled off the skin. I also roasted pearl onions and quartered mushrooms, and Drew and I served them on top of spinach. We've never eaten pearl onions, but Drew was suddenly inspired (by what, I have no idea) to roast them.
Drew and I like to try out new recipes, and the results usually fall into 3 categories: 1) so good we should definitely make it again; 2) good, but not good enough to make again; 3) disappointing. It turns out there is a 4th category: surprisingly good. Last night we made pasta with pistachio pesto, and it turned out a lot better than we expected. Not that we expected the results to be disappointing; we just didn't think this dish was going to be so good.
The recipe is from Food and Wine, and it's super simple and quick to put together. The pesto is made up of pistachios, garlic, olive oil, and mint, processed in the food processor and then mixed with grated pecorino. Instead of orecchiette, we used trottole. Normally, we eat whole wheat pasta, but sometimes we shake things up a bit and we happened to be at Target, where it is sold (it's a Target brand of pasta).
Drew and I enjoyed this dish a lot, and we couldn't stop raving about it. With a few bites remaining, Drew declared that he was stuffed and I wasted no time polishing off his leftovers. In my defense, I had run a half marathon earlier in the day, and if there is ever a time to finish Drew's leftovers, it's on a day when I've run 13.1 miles. Make this dish, and you'll understand.
This meal is inspired by a recipe from the Vegetarian Times magazine. If you're not familiar with the magazine and you're interested in eating more vegetarian meals, I highly recommend you take a look. The recipes are low maintenance and easy to follow, and the results are good. Drew and I used to be subscribers, but we stopped only because I began checking the magazine out from the library.
Last week, we made a balsamic onion, mushroom, and goat cheese pizza. The original comes from Mario Batali (he was doing a pizza special for the magazine) and doesn't contain mushrooms. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the recipe on VT's website but a quick google search took me to the recipe posted on this food blog, if you're interested.
But really, no recipe is necessary. I caramelized 2 sliced onions, and when those were almost finished, I added 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms. When the mushrooms were cooked through, I dumped in a couple glugs of balsamic vinegar and let the onion-mushroom mixture simmer for a few minutes until the liquid evaporated (I repeated this a second time because I decided that the mixture was not sufficiently balsamic-y, but do whatever you'd like).
The pizza crust recipe is from the Pioneer Woman. A couple years ago, Drew really got into pizza making (and bread making) which means that we got a pizza peel and a pizza stone. It's not terribly high maintenance to make "real" pizza, but lately, we haven't been feeling it (okay, the truth might be that when you make "real" pizza you can't use a lot of toppings or else the pizza won't slide on or off the pizza peel easily, and I fail to understand this because I like to have lots of toppings on my pizza, and I got tired of having Drew admonish me for overloading the pizzas), so we use PW's recipe and make it in a pan. We always double the recipe so we have an extra crust in the freezer, and besides, what else would we do with half a yeast packet?
We par baked the crust for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Then I sprinkled on some olive oil and covered the pizza with the balsamic mushroom and onions, and then Drew dabbed gobs of goat cheese over the top. Then we put it back in the oven for about 8 minutes or so until the cheese was sufficiently melty. As was the case the last time we made this pizza, we were really satisfied. And the best part is that there is another crust in the freezer, waiting until the next time we do it all over again.