Archive for March, 2011

Seat-of-my-pants Lasagna

I say “oh, no recipe, I made this up” and it sounds impressive, but really, if you know how to make spaghetti sauce from scratch, you also know how to make lasagna.  And since my mother makes the best spaghetti sauce in the known universe, this was pretty much a no-brainer. Read the rest of this entry »

, ,

No Comments

Crackers!

Not actually dinner, but superfun to make, and so easy!  This is the recipe I used, modified slightly as I did not have any semolina flower.

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp zatar
Whole Wheat Crackers

craaaaaaaaaaaaaackers!

Add dry ingredients to the bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix together.  Add water and olive oil, knead w/ mixer for 7 minutes or until smooth.  At this point the recipe says to separate the dough into 12 little balls…I did this, but in retrospect I’m not 100% sure why I did this.  What you want is just enough dough to roll out to cracker-thinness onto your sheet pan.  In my case, this was about 2 little balls of dough, or 1/6th of the total recipe.  Let the dough rest for about an hour at room temperature before you roll it out.  (And if you refrigerate it to roll out, say, tomorrow, let it come back to room temp before you do because it will roll out thinner and your crackers will be crispier.)

Preheat your oven to 400 and roll out the dough directly onto a sheet pan dusted with flour.  Just when you think it’s thin enough, sprinkle with kosher (or coarse sea) salt and roll out eeeeeeeeeven thinner.  Score with a knife to divide into crackers and prick each cracker with a fork a couple of times.  The recipe doesn’t say how long to bake these, but mine took about 7 minutes to get crispy and starting to brown.

In the future, I think more zatar would be in order – it was hard to taste in the finished product here.  Perhaps next time I’ll swap it out completely for a metric ton of black pepper.  Mmmmmmmm….

, , ,

No Comments

Shrimp Caesar Salad

This has been, to be blunt, a very low-cooking week.  It’s my last week of maternity leave and I just didn’t feel like exerting myself.  Monday we had the greek-chicken-and-chickpea stew again, Tuesday I defrosted some chili from the freezer, Wednesday and Thursday were leftovers, and tonight we had shrimp caesar salads.  This consists of pan-seared shrimp on top of a FreshDirect caesar salad, and is just about the bare minimum of effort one can put in and still legitimately claim to have made dinner.  The marinade for the shrimp is as follows:

  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • red pepper flakes
  • fresh rosemary if you have it (I did)
  • lots of garlic

Puree everything into a thin paste.  Toss with shrimp, let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes (much longer than that and you’ll wind up with ceviche).

Heat a little oil in a medium skillet (stainless or nonstick, doesn’t matter) until just barely smoking.  Cook the shrimp until lightly browned on both sides – do not overcook or they will become rubbery.

Put shrimp on salad.  Eat!

(Tomorrow we’re having chicken with a Trader Joe’s simmer sauce.  Do not expect a recipe for this.)

, , , ,

1 Comment

Zuppa de Pesce & Peanut-butter Cupcakes

It’s DH’s birthday today, so dinner had to be a little special.  He requested this fish stew, from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.  It’s a classic in our household too, but made less often now that we have kids.  It’s not only time-consuming to make, but also time-consuming to shop for, because it includes fish heads as one of Marcella’s CRITICAL ingredients.  If you’ve ever read a Marcella Hazan recipe, you already know that they are chock full of instructions like “And in order to make this recipe correctly, you’ll need to have been born a Silician fisherman and wake up at the crack of dawn to harvest your own scallops…” which, depending on the kind of cook you are, is either a deal-breaker or something you roll your eyes at and then go buy whatever scallops happen to be available at Whole Foods.

In most cases, I am the second kind of cook.  I nod appreciatively at what Marcella is trying to accomplish and then I make the closest approximation I can using American supermarket ingredients because I live in New York City and do not own a farm or a private jet.  But before we had kids, we lived in a much trendier neighborhood, and in this neighborhood there was a Really Awesome Fish Place.  And one day, after having made this recipe numerous times with no fish heads at all and thinking it was already pretty great, I thought to myself, Hey, Self, I bet the Awesome Fish Place would save some heads for you if you asked them a day or two in advance.  And they did.  And that week I made the recipe with the heads included and OH MY GOD MARCELLA I AM SO SORRY I EVER DOUBTED YOU.  The flavor was SO MUCH RICHER.  So, in short, fish heads matter, but require extra shopping, and that’s why we don’t have this very often anymore.

(PS, if you live in NYC, do NOT order the “fish heads and bones for stock” package from FreshDirect thinking you will get fish heads just because they’re in the name of the product.  I’ve tried this twice now and each time have received a very disappointing package of fish spines with NO HEADS.  I have written to complain and suggest you do the same.)

(PPS, in spite of my devotion to following Marcella’s orders because she is always right, I’ve still altered the recipe because hers assumes you will be serving 8 people, that you have the kind of money that buys five or six different kinds of shellfish, and also that you have the time to fillet whole fish yourself.  And that you are willing to use “1 cup of Italian plum tomatoes from a can” instead of just dumping the whole damn can in because REALLY, THERE IS ONLY SO FAR ONE CAN BEND.  I’m not giving exact measurements here because the amounts can be adjusted as needed depending on how many people you’re feeding.)

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , ,

No Comments

Pla Phad Prik King

Or, as the subtitle says, “fish with red curry sauce.”  I do not think this is entirely accurate, as when I went to Great Wall to find red curry paste, I also found (and purchased) “prik king” paste alongside it, which would indicate to me that they are subtly different dishes.  But I’m very very white, so what do I know?  I just love this recipe.  It’s either from Gourmet or Saveur, but Google isn’t telling me which.  Anyway.  Have I mentioned how much I love shopping at Great Wall?  Seriously worth the bus ride.

This is a catch-up post from Monday.  Sorry!

, , ,

No Comments

Savory Oatmeal

Special lunch post!  Had to write this down so I know how to make it again because it was pretty crazy delicious.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • dash of Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning
  • dash of Penzey’s dried shallots
  • small handful of pine nuts
  • egg
  • cheddar cheese
  • butter, salt, pepper

Cook the oatmeal in the water with shallots and Fox Point.  Toast pine nuts in dry skillet, add to oatmeal.  Add butter to skillet, fry the egg.  Put the oatmeal in a bowl with the egg on top.  Grate cheese over everything.  Season with salt & pepper (you won’t need much salt, if any, because there’s already some in the Fox Point seasoning).

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM.

, , , ,

No Comments

Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Pine Nuts

Lest you think I’m some kind of health nut, I made this recipe 4 or 5 times before I realized there wasn’t supposed to be pancetta in it.  Oops.  The original recipe from Gourmet is here – below is the way I always make it.

  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti or fettucini (I like the nuttiness of whole wheat in this dish, but regular pasta works fine too)
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, sliced (use the food processor or a mandoline for this)
  • large handful of pine nuts (about 1/2 cup?)
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp cubed pancetta (I like the kind you can buy pre-cubed, but you can also cut the sliced kind into faux-lardons)
  • olive oil, salt, pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Heat the olive oil in a large chef’s pan.  Add pancetta, and cook until crispy.  Add onion, pine nuts, and sprouts, saute over med-high heat until starting to brown.   Season to taste.  Add pasta, toss together and add enough of the cooking liquid to moisten everything.

Serve with LOTS of parmesan cheese.

iPhoto issues continue, but Dylan liked this even better than the lasagna.  Maybe because I let him have a “grown-up fork” for twirling.

, , ,

No Comments

Chicken-Spinach-Artichoke-Mushroom Lasagna

This is a catch-up post from Wednesday – it’s been a hectic week.  I can’t tell where this recipe came from based on the card – Cooking Club of America, maybe?  At any rate, I’ve lightened it up considerably here.  The original sauce has 2 cups EACH of whole milk and cream.  First of all, I’m not buying special milk and cream for one dish, and second of all, HOLY COW THAT’S A LOT OF HEAVY CREAM.  So I swapped the 2 cups of cream out for a combination of the liquid I’d normally squeeze out of the frozen spinach and some homemade chicken broth from the freezer.  Don’t worry, though, I made up for it by adding what was probably a lot of extra cheese. Read the rest of this entry »

, , ,

No Comments

Turkey Burgers with Mint-Yogurt Sauce

This is a Cooking Club of America recipe, and seriously lives up to the hype.  Even if you make these with ground turkey breast (fat free but also flavor free) they’ll still turn out pretty darn good.  I make them more or less according to the recipe except for the part where I never measure anything and tend to assume that any recipe calling for fewer than 4 cloves of garlic must be a typo.  (Oh, and I always make a double recipe since ground meat is generally sold in 1 lb packages and not 8 oz.  Seriously cooking magazines, STOP DOING THIS.  It’s like when pasta recipes call for 12 oz of dry pasta.  Have you ever seen a box of pasta that wasn’t 16 oz?  Frell that, I’m cooking the whole box and will have extra SO THERE.  See also: recipes that call for chopped onions by the cup rather than the number of onions.  Pet peeves, I haz them.)

Ahem.  Anyway, you can find the recipe for these here http://www.cookingclub.com/recipes/articletype/articleview/articleid/7112/turkey-burgers-with-mint-yogurt-sauce.

Dylan looking at turkey burgers

"If I eat all my tater tots, can I have more tater tots?"

Dylan Report: He ate 1/4 of a burger and roughly his own weight in tater tots and ketchup.  Those are vegetables, right?  (I didn’t even bother serving him any of the mint-yogurt sauce, as I know from experience that he will not eat anything with raw garlic in it.)

, , , , ,

1 Comment