Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cauliflower Ragu

This one is from Molto Gusto by Mario Batali. V and I both really liked it and it's a quick dish that can be made with ingredients I usually have on hand. Someday, when I'm out of our cannery pasta supply, I'll even make it with the whole grain stuff and then it will be really healthy. Note: I am paraphrasing the recipe and ingredients. You'll need to get the book for the full Batali effect. Also, the recipe below makes 4-6 servings. I cut it in half for our family.

1 medium cauliflower (2 lbs)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 med. onion, 1/4 inch dice
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
sea salt
1 1/2 -2 TB red pepper flakes (opt.)
6 TB butter
1 lb pasta
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 TB olive oil
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

Halve the cauliflower. Cut off the leaves and core and reserve them. Cut off floretes. Chop core, stalks, and leaves. Combine oil, onion, garlic, and cauliflower leaves, stalks, and core in a large pot. Season with sea salt and cook over medium until leaves are beginning to wilt, about 3 minutes. Reduce to low and stir frequently until leaves are tender, 18-20 minutes.

Note: I used 10 oz of frozen cauliflower floretes instead (for a half recipe) so I basically skipped this step and just sauted the onion and garlic in the oil until they were translucent.

Add the cauliflower florets, red pepper (opt.), and 1 cup water. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover, and stir occasionally until cauliflower is very soft and almost falling apart, 25 minutes. Add the butter, stir until it melts, remove from heat, season well with sea salt.

Boil 6 qts water, add 3 TB salt, and drop in pasta. Cook until al dente. (This is always less time than I think it will be. I think my spaghetti took 5 minutes. Maybe 4.) Meanwhile, toast breadcrumbs in 1 TB olive oil in a small skillet until starting to brown. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and water to the cauliflower and stir and toss until well coated. Add up to 1/3 cup more pasta water if necessary. Stir in the cheese. Serve topped with bread crumbs, rosemary, and additional grated cheese.

More notes: It looks like a lot of work but it really isn't that hard to pull together. Also, don't omit the breadcrumbs or rosemary. They really add a lot to the dish. Oh, and I don't use the red pepper flakes because I hate all things spicy - V just adds them to his serving at the table.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Strawberry Donuts

I'm not sure if I like cataloging all of my cravings but... this one was so delicious! Seriously. V heard about this place at work on Friday. We drove 3 hours in traffic and rain to get some Friday night - totally worth it - and wanted them again tonight so we recreated them at home. Delicious.

We took the lazy route and bought some donuts from our local donut shop (update: we've since made them from scratch). They were out of original glazed so we got twists and slit them down the middle. Then we made a strawberry glaze using this recipe except we didn't sieve the strawberries so it was chunky, not clear. Oh, and leave out the food coloring - yick.

Wash and slice strawberries. Fold strawberries into cooled glaze (use an ice bath to speed up the cooling, if desired). Stuff strawberry mixture into donut. Eat - preferably with your hands :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

We had our anniversary last weekend and opted to stay home and cook something fantastic instead of going out. We had prime steak with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans with butter. And Martinelli's, of course. So here is the secret to delicious garlic mashed potatoes:

Lots and lots and lots of butter :)
5 lbs potatoes
2 sticks butter
6+ cloves of garlic
whole milk
salt to taste

Peel the potatoes unless you're using reds. Chop and boil until soft. Meanwhile, chop garlic. Melt about 4 TB of the butter in a small pan and saute the garlic until just beginning to brown. If you burn it, start over. Add the rest of the butter just so it all melts. Remove from heat. Drain potatoes, put in mixer with cookie paddle attachment. Mix a few seconds, then pour in butter while continuing to mix. Add a little bit of milk to reach desired consistency. Add a little salt, taste, and add more salt as necessary. If you used salted butter, it won't need a ton of salt added. Be careful not to overmix or your potatoes will end up pasty and feel free to add more butter as well ;)

Scrambled Eggs

No, I'm not actually going to give you a recipe for scrambling eggs. BUT, I wanted to share a triumph from last week. I was surfing some blogs and found a post about how to scramble eggs in a cast iron pan. Of course, I didn't save the link - gah - but the main tips were to use a ton of coconut oil (like 3 TB) and then let the eggs sit for a while and set up a bit after you pour them in the pan before your first initial stirring.

I was really impressed with my results - just check out how clean that empty pan is! I'm not quite ready to part with my non-stick pan because I don't trust my omelets to cast iron yet - but I am one step closer now. Yay.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Beef Stew

I had this delicious beef stew at a friend's house. I bugged her for the recipe and made it again. This is definitely going on the regular menu now! Go here for the recipe. I reduced the meat to 1 lb but left everything else the same. Oh, I guess I did brown the meat in a little oil first like you would with pot roast but I'm sure that's not necessary. And tho a dutch oven (like the recipe suggests) is still on my wishlist for next Christmas, the stew was delicious just cooked in my stainless steel pot. Thanks for the recipe RH!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Apparently I haven't posted the recipe for these. Weird. It's one of my standard recipes but I've started making them a lot lately. This is mostly because I've been way too lazy to make bread but also because I got the idea from this blog post to eat them pbj style. I think we've had peanut butter and jelly crepes at least three times this week for lunch. Really yummy and they are easily portable wrapped in plastic wrap.

1 cup soft white wheat flour (or white)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 TB coconut oil or butter, melted

Place ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Makes about 16 crepes for my crepe maker (If you don’t have one, get one for your birthday. We got it from my aunt for our wedding and love it so much, it has survived 9 moves without being given away). Serve with peanut butter and jam or bananas and pb or strawberries and cream cheese with whipped cream. 

Note: They aren't super filling. I spread the peanut butter pretty thinly but I need about four of them for a meal  with fruit or veggies on the side. Also, I want to try them with labneh and slivered red peppers and cucumbers, or sliced turkey and avocado with sprouts. Any other suggestions?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Caramel Popcorn

Admittedly, this is the result of a craving. But it was at least homemade and I did hold off a whole week before giving in. Soooo yummy though. The problem is that now this batch is all gone and I want to make more!

½ cup butter
2 ¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup karo syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup raw popcorn

Pop corn in an air popper or use about 3 bags of microwaved popcorn. In a saucepan, melt butter and add sugar and karo. Warm. Add sweetened condensed milk. Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage (about 8-10 minutes after it comes to a boil). Do not overcook or your popcorn will be super hard. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour over popcorn. Eat as soon as it doesn't burn your fingers. If there are any leftovers, I suggest making them into popcorn balls before they harden too much. Depending on how long you cooked the caramel, it may be hard to chisel out the leftovers the next day. Don't get me wrong, it's delicious and gooey the day of and the popcorn balls are chewy - not hard - but if you leave it all in one mass, it's just hard to work with when cooled. Plus, popcorn balls are nice and easy to throw in a purse and give to a Monkey for a treat.

Dehydrated Garlic

Well, I have not posted in forever. Partly, because my diet has been less than stellar. I am pretty much completely indulgent while pregnant apparently. But I do still cook once in a while so I think the main problem is that all of my free-non-napping time seems to get sucked away by the game V got us back into for Christmas. While my blog may have suffered, my character is level 74 in just less than a month ;) haha.

Anyway, I do still once in a while do healthy-ish things in the kitchen. This is one of my new favorite tricks. I had bought a bunch of organic garlic from Azure Standard because it's way cheaper than at the store. The problem is that while we do go thru a lot of garlic, we just don't go thru enough of it to make it thru the whole bag before it rots. So once it starts to sprout and make me nervous, I put it in the dehydrator. It makes the house smell fantastic - or horrible, depending on your mood - for about 3 days. And then, when it's completely dry, I put it in the cupboard. I have some from about 4 months ago that still seems completely fine. I grind it with the mortar and pestle for the best tasting garlic powder ever.