Archive for November, 2011

Thanksgiving Greens

Posted in Vegetables on November 25th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Every year for probably as long as we’ve been a couple, Andrew and I went to the same friends for Thanksgiving. It was pretty much tradition, but this year they decided to go and move across the country. So left with no other choice, we had to start our own tradition at home, and invited the band. Andrew likes to cook the big holiday meals which is great because I’m not ready to tackle a turkey, and don’t plan to be either.

I admire anyone who can get up at an absurd hour to turn this:

into this:

I especially admire them as I sleep in and only have to make sure to be dressed before guests arrive.

For my part I did contribute some vegetables to the meal – mashed potatoes (of course) and newly discovered mustard greens.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound mustard greens, washed and torn into large pieces
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp chicken broth or vegetable broth (vegetarian option)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil

I have a feeling that any green leafy vegetable could be thrown into this recipe as those are pretty standard looking accompaniments.

Directions:

  • In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant.

Onions, doing their thing.

  • Add the mustard greens and broth and cook until the mustard greens are just barely wilted. Toss with sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper.

It’s almost like a magic trick how these things cook down from overflowing a pan to a condensed blob. Unfortunately with Thanksgiving involving a lot of running around between guests and the kitchen, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. So instead I present an artist’s representation, in bad-MSPaint style.

Can you believe I cheated and used Photoshop? That plate is its own layer!

(I now promise to never do that again. Real pictures or no post. But it was funny in my head.)

Anyway mustard greens, I learned, live up to their name. Mustardy. Spicy, like you wouldn’t expect from an inconspicuous leafy vegetable. Unless you like to burn your mouth with vegetables I wouldn’t recommend this recipe as-is, however they could liven up a mixed-green type dish. Add some kale to start. All the trendy people are eating kale (and making bad MSPaint drawings.)

Nutmeg pasta

Posted in Pasta on November 15th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Oh how I wish I had this recipe back when I had an excess of nutmeg!

There’s not really much to it, but a magazine cover in the grocery store was making me hungry for pasta with cheese, and even though the picture looked like your everyday Parmesan-on-spaghetti, I still had to go looking to see if there were any inspirational ideas out there. Not only inspirational, but “A Eureka Pasta Moment” is what I found.

His Eureka Moment was using a big of pasta water to make the cheesy sauce. Mine was the nutmeg addition.

al dente

I’m going to get a little controversial here but I feel like this phrase is overused these days. I’m not referring specifically to this person but I see it all over when I’m looking at pasta recipes and get the feeling people are throwing it in just to sound good. I’m pretty sure I first heard “al dente” used in an Olive Garden (or similar) commercial as a kid and it exploded from there. At the same time my mom had taught me that spaghetti’s done when it sticks to the refrigerator – I wonder if there’s an Italian word for that.

According to the Wikipedia, “Keeping the pasta firm is especially important in baked or “al forno” pasta dishes, which will be baked.” Beyond that feel free to cook your pasta as mushy as you like. I’ve been throwing it in, setting the timer, and walking away my entire life without a problem so maybe I’m just defensive that people are turning the easiest meal in the world, short of ramen noodles, into something that can be done “wrong”.

Actually I have to admit pasta can be done wrong, only because I had a boyfriend in college who didn’t know to boil the water first, and made us very wrong, soggy macaroni and cheese. “Al dente” would be a good cover for a bad cook on the other end who makes crunchy noodles though, just like I used to my burnt food “blackened”. (Don’t be offended. I’m making fun of myself!)

Oh look, pictures… there’s some butter melting in the pot.

Trying to pretend to be healthy, I cut up some fresh spinach. Normally I used frozen but this was some Andrew bought that I knew was going to be forgotten about.

This is my version of “freshly grated”…

And by magic it’s a plate of spaghetti!

With nutmeg on top… really. It was quite good. The nutmeg added enough flavor that you could easily cut back on the cheese, but who eats pasta not expecting it not to contribute to a future heart attack?

Red Velvet Milkshake

Posted in Dessert on November 11th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Andrew came home last week and said he found something at the grocery store I had to know about, but didn’t buy for me because he was afraid of being accused of sabotaging my diet.

Red Velvet Cake Batter Ice Cream with
Red Velvet Cake Pieces & a
Cream Cheese Frosting Swirl

I see a lot of “wrong” red velvet out there but I have faith in Ben & Jerry’s.

Red velvet isn’t just chocolate cake with red food coloring. The red tint originally came from a reaction between the chocolate and buttermilk, and except for my inappropriate cupcakes I consider the flavor more important than the color. In fact I think too many people have been turned off of red velvet cake due to the artificial dye taste.

I also learned while making my cupcakes that cream cheese frosting isn’t actually the traditional frosting, but people use it that way anyway so I’ll give them that. I saw vinegar in the ingredients (same as my cupcakes) which convinced me that this is the real thing… in ice cream form.

Adding milk and a blender… it’s red velvet cake in liquid form.

Wine glasses are good for portion control, and they make anything you drink feel fancy.

(And yes I realize in retrospect that photographing on a white background was a bad idea… that’s why this is a cooking blog not a photography blog.)

Asiago Mashed Potatoes

Posted in Potatoes, Vegetables on November 4th, 2011 by admin – 2 Comments

Okay here’s my sob story… First I know I’m going to lose a lot of sympathy when I say I hadn’t been to the dentist in over ten years. But I did go to the dentist and then my teeth started falling apart. I’m guessing they cleaned off all of the gunk I needed to keep holding them together. So with a painful broken tooth (which later stopped hurting more mysteriously than it started) I left the coffee shop early and looked ahead to a weekend eating mashed potatoes.

However, tragedy, I had no potatoes at home and for the same reasons I left the coffee shop early (er, mainly intense pain) I didn’t feel like grocery shopping on the way home. However, luck, I was parked right outside of a little organic grocery store that I’d never noticed before, ten minutes before closing, and acquired a bag of mini gold potatoes.

For reference, those are about 5 curious pink cat noses wide.

(I lie, I totally guessed that number.)

‘But I don’t want to search for some new mashed potato recipe,’ I whined to myself, ‘I just want plain old mashed potatoes.’ (Plain Old Mashed Potatoes, for the record, is garlic and sour cream with bacon bits on top) So I’ll write about when I tried to make asiago mashed potatoes instead.

Oh there’s that word ‘tried’ again. But it was good, I promise.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (I like Yukon Gold)

Me too!

  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2-3/4 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 scallions, thinly sliced

I could start my own personal stock photography collection of things like ‘cut potatoes’.

Directions:

  • Cook potatoes in boiling wate….

Okay we already know this part. Cook, mash, etc. Actually no etc., that comes next.

  • Add the warmed milk, sour cream, butter, salt, white pepper, and garlic, mixing well
  • Sprinkle in the shredded cheese and scallions, stirring until cheese starts to melt and incorporate.

Somewhere in here is where the “tried” happened…

It seemed like a lot of milk but I trusted the recipe and got a pot of potato slush. So I turned to what I call the Unhelpful Internet. How to fix runny mashed potatoes? “Don’t add to much milk.” Right… I’ll get right in my cooking time machine and add less milk.

Other suggestions were to add more potatoes (which I would have figured out on my own if I had more potatoes to cook) and to add instant mashed potato flakes – something I consider potato blasphemy, but I might have to start keeping on hand because I’ve seen them as an emergency fix for a number of cooking problems.

The best suggestion I found was also the one I was already doing, leaving it on the stove to try to boil it down.

It’s not a mashed masterpiece, but I’ll still take it over instant.

Anyway looking at the recipe again I realize what the problem is – I had scaled down the 6 servings to 3, and the recipe recalculated the 3/4 cup of milk to be… 1/2 cup. Some faulty math but the original recipe is still good. Whoever wrote the code though, I know no one wants to figure out 3/8 of a cup (that’s 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons) but there’s no excuse for recipe-ruining rounding.