Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Minestra di Pasta e Verdure alla Romana

The title translates to Roman Soup with Pasta and Vegetables. We here at home refer to it as minestrone soup; easier to remember.

This is one of my all-time favorite soups to make for winter. Though it is only fall, beautiful pleasant afternoons have lead to cool evenings once the sun goes down,  and I could not wait. This soup always satisfys and I have been craving something healthy, after not so healthy eating this week.

I usually make this with salad macaroni rather than the elbow shaped pasta - it makes for a prettier presentation.

The recipe comes from the book The Classic Pasta Cookbook by Giuliano Hazan. His recipes are easy to prepare and so far have not disappointed.

Success meter (1-3): 3+

Wholesome goodness.

Look at all those leafy greens.
Chard, kale, butter lettuce, and cabbage.

I have always bought pancetta from the deli in the past.
I did not know I had a choice of cured or uncured.
Not sure what I have bought previously.

This is "salad macaroni" which I prefer to use in this soup,
and realized only as I was writing this that I had it in
the pantry.

The aromatics: onion, celery, carrot, rosemary, (and pancetta).

Throw your greens in after sautéing your aromatics.

Cook down..

Add broth.

The best soup ever!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dinner for One (or more!)

This is a real quick and short post!

I want to share with you two tasty dishes I made for myself this past weekend while flying solo.

Both of these serve more than one, but I scaled the recipes down and still had enough for lunches as well.

Success meter (1-3): 3

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

I found the delicious squash recipe via Let's Eat!, where Ashley (our daughter) credits the recipe to Emily of The Daily Garnish. I am so proud of our daughter who is becoming quite the cook. She is the one who inspired me to start this blog and where I learned my photography skills from (I still have a long was to go). Thanks Ash! Love you!

The recipe calls for orange champagne vinegar which I do not have, so I added a bit of orange zest to regular champagne vinegar. I had a fair amount of stuffing leftover (I cooked only one squash - but the full amount of filling) and had it for lunch two days later. Still it had wonderful flavor.

The Brussels sprouts salad I found on Liz's blog at That Skinny Chick Can Bake and boy can she! If this recipe does not appeal to you, I'm sure you will find something that will.

The salad is garnished with grated hard-boiled egg (Liz omitted) and Parmesan cheese. The next time I make this I will add about 1/4 cup of cheese and a couple of grated eggs to toss in the salad itself for I thought it added a lot of character to this dish. 

As Julia Child would say - Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WW: Spicy Orange Chicken

Wok Wednesdays Wokking thru Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

Wow! This dish had me on cloud nine. Grace, you are amazing! Thank you time and time again for your wonderful recipes; any chance you will do a vegetarian stir-fry book in the future?

I made a couple of deviations. I used ground black pepper instead of white, and I used Hunan Chili Sauce in place of the chili bean sauce, for this is what I had on hand and my local chain grocery did not carry the chili bean sauce. The recipe calls for the zest of one orange; so I thought why not add sectioned orange slices - this was a good call on my part.

Not sure why my tomatoes disintegrated. I did not seed them like I did for the Stir-Fried Eggs with Tomatoes and the picture in the book shows them mostly intact. Maybe it was due to that I used an heirloom tomato? Also I had a lot of sauce (partially due to the disintegrated tomatoes?) which makes me wish I had made rice or served bread to soak up all that tasty goodness!

This stir-fry was fabulous!

Success meter (1-3): 3

Oh the aroma...
(and it's not even cooking yet!)

The recipe calls for shredded ginger.
First you slice paper-thin slices, then
cut the slices into 1/8-inch fine shreds.
I placed a dime to show scale - my pieces
were not quite paper-thin, but did the job.

Just look at those beautiful tomatoes!

So gratifying...

This weekend was our daughter's birthday. We celebrated with a trip to San Francisco to buy her a cast iron (her choice) wok from the fabulous Tane Chan of the Wok Shop. We spoke with Tane Chan and she is a treat to say the least! Not only does she praise Grace Young to the fullest, she also gives great pointers and wonderful lunch recommendations. Thank you Tane! 

When in San Francisco..


Abutilon "Tiger Eye"

A comparison:

My four month old wok compared to the
wok I puchased for my nephew while
we were at the Wok Shop.

You will not find the recipe here on my blog or within the Wok Wednesdays community. We encourage readers to go and purchase this book at their local independent bookstore or on-line.

Make sure to visit my co-wokkers to see their results on this stir-fry.
Look for the LYL link on the Wok Wednesdays page.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TWD: Bagels | Everything & Jalapeño - Cheddar

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing baker: Lauren Groveman

                                            Everything Bagel

I'll definitely try my hand at making bagels again. These were good. Especially the jalapeño-cheddar bagel.

The only downside was that the everything bagel was dry and tough the next day, as where the jalapeño-cheddar bagel was still soft and moist; probably due to the cheese I added to the dough. I'm wondering if the vegetable shortening that I had inadvertently omitted would have any effect on the texture of the bagels. The reason I question this is that other recipes I have seen do not call for shortening or other fats to be added.

I halved the dough after mixing and to one half I added chopped jalapeños and grated cheddar cheese. Before baking I also topped them with additional cheese and jalapeños. I did not add anything to the remainder of the dough itself, but I did top the remaining bagels with a mixture of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt.

Lauren's recipe makes ten large bagels. I wanted to have plenty to go around so I divided the dough into approximately 2 ounce portions which yielded 24 bagels. They turned out to be the perfect size.

I decided to go with Peter Reinhart's (author of The Bread Baker's Apprentice) instructions to form the bagels before retardation*. He also has you do a "float test" (shown below) to make sure they are ready to be refrigerated. This would save a lot of time in the morning. I would just have to boil, top, and bake before delivering them to the boys in time for their morning break.

*Retarding is a second, slower rising of your bread dough. It is done by placing the dough in the refrigerator which causes a slower fermentation, or rise, of the dough. Retarding bread dough is often done overnight when the dough is placed in the refrigerator so that it can be freshly baked in the morning. It is also done to increase the flavor of the bread and to give the crust a darker color when baked. (Source: about [dot] com.)

In making of my bagels I used three separate resources:

1. Baking with Julia for the initial recipe.
2. The Bread Baker's Apprentice for dough preparation.
3. Brown Eyed Baker for the everything topping recipe.

Success meter (1-3): 2

"The float test". After the bagels are formed and have rested
for about twenty minutes, check to see if they are ready to be
retarded (placed in the refrigerator) by placing a bagel in a bowl
of cool to room temperature water. If it floats within ten seconds 
they are ready. Return the bagel to the pan, pat it dry and continue
with the recipe. Should the bagel not float, return it to the pan and
let the dough rest for another ten to twenty minutes and try again.

These are my favorite.

I left two plain - just in case.

All packed up and ready for the boys!
(Only to drive up and find them all
standing in the middle of the shop
eating breakfast sandwiches!)

The directions say the bagels will keep
for a day in a paper bag which I did not
have. Wrapped in parchment is so much
cuter anyway - great gift idea!

Bagels are really easy and fun to make. If you would like to give it a try visit our host Heather at Heather's Bytes for the recipe or one of the other resources I mentioned above.

Do make sure to check out the results of my fellow bakers; there are always interesting variations and techniques to accommodate ingredient & equipment availability, personal preferences, and health restrictions.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Recipe from Bon Appétit | July 1998

Don't pass these up because they have no meat or poultry - they are fabulous! Even my sister who is a meat and potatoes kinda gal loves them. This would make a great addition to your (non-traditional)Thanksgiving menu, vegetarian or not.

I made these one evening when my meat loving sister was coming over for dinner and as they were baking she asked what kind of enchiladas we were having. I just looked at her, and she knew they were squash... how she knew I don't know. Maybe because I tend to use it often in recipes. We laughed so hard - she was hesitant to say the least, but she ended up loving them. Score!

Success meter (1-3): 3

We love the sweetness of the squash paired
with the zing of the salsa. Trust me - these
are really, really good. You'll be amazed.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

WW: Stir-Fried Eggs with Tomatoes

Wok Wednesdays wokking thru Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

I have enjoyed every recipe so far from this book, though I must say that this is my least favorite; which makes me feel less guilty for making this just for myself and not when my husband could join me.

The recipe calls for cilantro which is one of those flavors people tend to either love, or hate. Me, I like cilantro. Maybe that's why I like salsas so much - cilantro, lime, jalapeno, mmm... however not so much in this dish. I may have liked it better with less or even substitute parsley for the cilantro. I really enjoyed the tomatoes with the egg, it also added a nice visual appearance to the finished stir-fry.

Reading the comments on the Wok Wednesdays LYL post I seeded the tomatoes on the advice of Matt from Green Eats Blog. He felt that the tomatoes not being seeded added too much moisture and made for a watery mess. Thanks for the tip Matt - no sodden eggs here!

Success meter (1-3): 2

You will not find the recipe here on my blog or within the Wok Wednesdays community. We encourage readers to go and purchase this book at their local independent bookstore or on-line.

Make sure to visit my co-wokkers to see their results on this stir-fry.
Look for the LYL link on the Wok Wednesdays page.