Posts tagged ‘Cheese’

June 20, 2012

Words Fail Me | Garlic Scape Pesto and Prawn Pizza

I have a tendency to be effusive.

I also wish, at times like this, that I wasn’t all those other times.

Because sometimes, you end up with a garlic scape pesto and prawn pizza with an egg on top.

And you haven’t ever made pizza before because you just thought, “well, I am kind of terrible with breads and I’ll probably be terrible with pizza crusts, too.”  But then, lo! you have this amazing friend, who’s super-supportive and encouraging for you to go ahead! Try to make it! You can do it!

My friend Kate is this person.  In addition to being a talented and creative entrepreneur, she’s also an incredible cook.  I stood in her kitchen for a few moments mid-day today after she handed me gifts of a ball jar of cherry stones and a bouquet of garlic scapes from her very own enthusiastic garden and I remembered: she makes really great pizzas.  I remembered, too, that Kate never seems to fuss with her dough and when I asked her about it, I had all of those questions: “oh you’d have to rest it, right?  and you need to make it in the morning or something, too, huh?”

Quite simply she said, no.

She stood in the kitchen with the sun streaming in through the window and wrote on a scrap of paper the simplest recipe for pizza dough around.  And said, “hey, those scapes make awesome pesto.”

After her incredibly simple explanation of the dough and remembering the ease of pesto, I stood there gesturing wildly with my jar of cherry stones exclaiming, “Yes!  I will make pizza tonight!  I will do it.”

“Here, take some cheese,” she said.

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September 28, 2011

A New Southern Favorite | Green Grits

I am currently hoarding the last of my Nora Mill Granary yellow speckled grits.  These stone milled grits are honestly the best I’ve ever tasted.  My favorite way to make them is with half stock and half Snowville whole milk; then stir in a few pureed greens, anything that’s seasonal, even lettuces are lovely.

And do I need anything to go with them?  Not really.  But if you have a bit of a fresh ham that you’ve brined and baked, that’d go just beautifully.

Green Grits, Serves 4 to 6, Inspired by original recipe in Jamie’s America

2 c stock, chicken or vegetable, preferably homemade

2 c whole milk, Snowville, if it’s available in your area

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July 21, 2011

Roots | Tex-Mex Enchilada Gravy

It almost pains me to give up this recipe.  Almost.

But I think everyone should try hyper-local specialties: Texas style enchiladas with chili gravy; Taylor ham, egg and cheese; mirabelles.  It’s a taste of place.  It should be a bite that makes you say, “Yes, this is what it tastes like in San Antonio.”  “This is what it tastes like in northern New Jersey.”  “This is what it tastes like in Nancy.”  It’s one way of understanding the world in a deeper way.

This recipe harkens from my father’s mother, passed to my mother, passed to me, passed to Cherub.  (She still likes my Mom’s better than mine.  But she’s not wrong.)  To me, this chili gravy that smothers corn tortillas that cuddle spoonfuls of ground beef, chopped onion and cheeses tastes not only of San Antonio, but of childhood and tradition and family.  And love.  Lots of love.

Enchilada Gravy, makes enough for approximately 48 enchiladas

1/2 c flour

1/2 c vegetable oil (or lard)

1/2 c chili powder (what your powder tastes like will be the dominant flavor of the sauce, taste for sweetness, heat, etc.)

2 heaping T ground cumin

3 or 4 garlic cloves, finely minced

Salt to taste

2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 6 to 8 c very warm water

In a large pan (ideally a cast iron skillet) over medium heat, warm the oil or lard and brown the flour lightly.  Remove from heat.  Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic and salt.  Return to medium heat with enough water to make a gravy.  Simmer for twenty minutes.

{To assemble enchiladas, warm corn tortillas in oil, then roll, filling with any combination of grated cheese, diced white onion and ground beef.  Place in a baking pan in in close rows that had a ladleful of gravy covering the bottom.  Ladle more gravy over the tops of the enchiladas, sprinkle with cheese or whatever fillings you’ve chosen.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.}

Playlist included Blisters May Come, by Centro-Matic.

February 14, 2011

Are you awake?* | Cacio e Pepe

Late the first night in Rome many years ago, Hades and I wandered.  Blinking in the bright lights of the wedding cake, looking for a spot to grab dinner, tired from our long trip, still adjusting to the time change.  We came across a tiny nameless spot, umbrellas still up outside, despite the late hour.  We stopped in and ordered the first thing on the menu. It was this: spaghetti, copious amounts of finely ground black pepper and pecorino romano.

It is a go-to meal for tired people. It requires not so much thought, but pristine ingredients. Perhaps, when you’re home late one night, don’t have much in the fridge and don’t care much for thinking about what’s for dinner, you’ll give this a try.  You may choose to add a bit of guanciale, or pancetta if it’s lying about.  Perchance an egg yolk.  No one in Rome would approve, of course, but do as you please, it’s late after all.

I am tired.
I am true of heart!

And also:
You are tired.
You are true of heart!**

Cacio e Pepe, serves 4

1 pound of fresh spaghetti, otherwise good quality dried

1 c grated pecorino romano

1 t finely ground black pepper

4 T good quality olive oil

3 egg yolks (optional, make sure they’re good quality)

1/4 c crisp guanciale or pancetta or bacon (optional)

handful of chopped parsley (optional)

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente.  Drain, but reserve one and half cups of the pasta water.  Return the pasta to the pot, and the remaining ingredients, as many or as few as you wish, adding pasta water as needed to create a silky sauce.

* Playlist included Are You Awake?, by Kevin Shields

January 11, 2011

Winter Kitchen | White Bolognese with Fresh Pasta

You can’t find a fresh, ripe, beautiful red tomato here in Ohio in January.  You just can’t.  So how could you possibly make a bolognese in the depths of winter?  Make a white bolognese.  Skip the tomatoes altogether and make a very Italian specialty.  In doing so, you will make my single most favorite thing to cook.

It is my most favorite of all favorites.  Really, truly.  The kind that my small family of three will piggishly devour an entire pound of pasta, with Cherub (remember, she’s three) helping herself to thirds.  It is, in a word, delicious.  Amazingly delicious.  Well, that’s two.  But I mean it: if you have yet to make a recipe from this blog, you should make this one.

White Bolognese, adapted from The Silver Spoon

1 T olive oil

2 strips of bacon

1/2 finely chopped yellow onion

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December 29, 2010

“Wow” | Crab, Leek and Ricotta Rollatini (with Truffles)

There are fireworks on New Year’s Eve for a reason.  It’s a time for the best we’ve got.  A dinner like this requires a lot of you.  But oh my, is it worth it.  And the one you make it for will think so, too.  And I’m sure they’ll be grateful.

I cooked a lot today.  I picked one and a half pounds of snow crab.  Kind of tedious.  Made a stock from the crab shells and froze it.  Easy.  Cooked up a batch of ricotta.  Simple, but a little time-consuming.  Mixed up a big batch of homemade pasta.  Great workout.  Rolled said pasta into lasagna noodles.  Time consuming, but simple.  Assembled said pasta and crab, etc. into rollatini.  Pretty simple.  Bake.  But my oh my, look what happened to the time!  Nothing today was difficult, but it all took time.

That seductive, elusive siren:  time.  Everyone (hello, Thirty Minute Meals) will tell you that you don’t have enough of it, that you have to squeeze more out of what you’re given.  Don’t believe them.   Take pleasure in the cooking tasks in front of you.  Your end results are what nurture you and those you love.  For a real wow factor, make something at home that is worth both your effort and your time.

Crab, Leek and Ricotta Rollatini, serves 4

STEP ONE:  Make Ricotta

STEP TWO:  Make the filling

Mix 2 cups of cooked crab, 2 cups of ricotta, 1 leek that’s been sautéed in olive oil, 6 stems’ worth of picked thyme leaves, salt and pepper to taste.  Reserve a spoonful of the filling for garnish.

STEP THREE:  Make the pasta

You will find a large variety of fresh pasta recipes online and in cookbooks.  A quick guideline ratio is 1 cup of flour to 1 egg plus one egg yolk.  I follow the recommendation of the flawless Marco Pierre White.  Easy.  Accurate.  Delicious.  I grated the remainder of our truffles (three tiny ones) into the dough.  Please try to add this if you can.  It makes a world of difference.

STEP FOUR:  Assemble the dish

I rolled the mixture into rollatini (heaping bits of the mix along the length of the pasta), greased the dish with truffle butter (thank you, Snowville and Greener Grocer) and baked for 20 minutes at 350 F.  You may do as you wish.  Cut your pasta into strips for papardelle and toss with the crab mixture.  Make ravioli and use the crab as the filling.  Just know that by making your own pasta you will attain new heights of flavor.

At the end of the day, this dish is about the transformative power of cooking.  The pasta is flour and eggs.  The cheese is simply warmed milk and a bit of lemon.  The truffles and leeks are pure earthiness.  Do yourself a favor – take the time to make something extraordinary.  It’s that time of year for fireworks.

Serve with Prosecco.

Playlist included Wow, by Kylie Minogue.  On repeat.

December 19, 2010

Holiday Party Detox | Tomatillo Salad with Oak-Grilled Snapper

By this point in the Holiday Season, we may be reaching our fill of cocktails and nibbles.  Here’s a light, fuss free, midweek meal, inspired by South Texas, that’s designed to give you a break between the Food Court, the office break room spread, and the eighth family feast this month.  Just arrange the salad, blend the sweet and spicy dressing, then grill the romaine and fish (outside, with a handful of oak chips, for those of you living somewhere your Webber isn’t under a snowdrift. If it is, the grill pan is fine).  Helpfully, the ingredients for the salad are still in season in Texas.  As a result, you’ll get some bright flavors and a sunnier mood.  And won’t that be nice before your final mall run.

Oak-Grilled Red Snapper with Tomatillo Salad and Guajillo Dressing,

Serves 2

For the Dressing:

5 T. olive oil

2 T molasses

1 dried guajillo (or your personal favorite) dried pepper, covered with boiling water and soaked for 30 minutes

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