Sunday, June 24, 2012

Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Kale

Kale was the latest leafy green veggie I had to contend with in my CSA box. I've cooked with kale before, briefly steaming it and tossing it into the Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Salad. But, when I got the kale in my box last week, I was sort of perplexed since it was a different variety than what I'm familiar with...it wasn't the lacinto kale or curly kale that you typically see in the produce department. It was a variety that had dusty reddish, purple-colored leaves which I learned was called Russian Kale. It's a more tender variety and being that I didn't have a ton of it, I thought it would be perfect in a pasta dish.

My inspiration for this dish comes from two places. First, although the only thing that I have ordered at Lombardino's in Madison is the Spaghetti alla Bolognese, I have tasted (thanks to Chris) the Orecchiette with Fraboni's Sausage & Rapini and it is delicious! And, I don't even like sausage! Rapini (aka, broccoli rabe) is a green veggie that can be cooked very similarly to kale. So, I thought this might work. Apparently others like the combo of pasta, sausage, and kale as I found a few recipes as my starting point. Ultimately I used the recipe for Fettucine with Sausage and Kale from Gourmet as my primary recipe.

For how quickly this dish came together, the results were very good. To prep the kale, I removed the tough lower portions of the stems and really rough chopped into big pieces. The sausage I used was hot Italian sausage from the Italian grocery store, removed from the casing, crumbled and cooked. Super spicy! Ultimately I ended up using more chicken broth than what was called for in the recipe to make sure I had enough sauce. Be sure to finish your noodles in the saute pan reserving the pasta water.

Recipe from Gourmet, modified below for approximately 3 servings
Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 lb hot italian sausage, casing discarded and sausage crumbled (two big links)
  • 1/4 lb kale, tough stems discarded and rough chopped into big pieces
  • 1/2 lb orecchiette pasta
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • Fresh grated parmesan, pecorino ramano, or gran padano cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet and brown the crumbled sausage until cooked through, approximately 5-7 minutes
  2. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente and drain, reserving a cup of cooking water
  3. While pasta cooks, add kale and broth to sausage, scraping up any sausage bits from the pan. Cover and cook the kale until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add drained pasta to the sausage & kale mixture, using reserved cooking water to thin to desired consistency. Stir in cheese and thin with additional water if desired.
  4. Serve immediately

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Roasted Beet Hummus

CSA box week two consisted of baby beets, swiss chard, kale, onion, cilantro, dill, and garlic scapes. Oh yeah, and LOTS of mixed greens. I'm kind of amazed at how much they can pack into two plastic bags! We'll be eating salad alongside everything else I make this week, that's for sure.

Today, I scoured the web for a recipe that'd be good for baby beets...wasn't really having much luck. I haven't really eaten beets in any memorable way in the past, except this one time at a place called Coopers Tavern on the square in downtown Madison. I ordered their hummus, and what they brought to me was hot pink hummus! Apparently, made with roasted beets. So, I tossed aside the disappointing recipes for beets and figured I'd just roast the things and blitz them together with some garbanzos into a hummus of my own.

Since I've never cooked beets before I sort of learned as you go on prepping these. First of all, beets are really red, and will stain a wooden cutting board. Use a plastic board you don't really care about to do the trimming. Remove the tops and the long lanky root thing at the bottom. Don't bother peeling. Once roasted, the skins will come right off. Roasting is simple...just toss them in a foil packet and roast until softened, maybe forty-five minutes to an hour, depending on how big your beets are.

My baby beets were pretty small, so for this hummus I used about 6-7 beets. Making hummus is pretty easy. I've found that I like my hummus a little runnier, so to get the consistency I like I usually add water at the end. Just taste it as you go, adding more of whatever you need.

Here's my recipe for hummus. Makes approximately 2 cups:
Ingredients:

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
  • 6-7 baby beets, roasted, skins removed and roughly diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 small clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Feta Cheese (optional) 

Directions:

  1. In food processor, combine garbanzos, beets, lemon juice, garlic, tahini. With processor running, slowly add olive oil into spout. Stop, scrape down sides and restart processor. With processor running, slowly add water and process to desired consistency. Add pinch of salt at the end and season to taste. Top with feta and serve with pita chips, veggies, or crackers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches


Despite the fact that I am happily married, I have a new love in my life...for ice cream. But, not just any ice cream. It's AMAZING ice cream by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams based out of Columbus, OH. I had heard about this ice cream on some TV show on HGTV a few years ago and figured it was just one of those things that I'd have to try if I ever found my way to Columbus. But then, it showed up at Fromagination in Madison. And so I bought a pint of the Brown Butter Almond Brittle. And then it showed up at Metcalfe's (much closer to my house). And now, it's a problem for me. Well, mostly a problem for my waistline because once I take a spoonful I. cannot. stop.

So, when I found myself bored and staring at a gigantic jar of extra crunchy peanut butter I thought "yes, let's take this amazingly rich ice cream and plop it between two super rich homemade peanut butter cookies, and then eat it! Yes! Brilliant! I won't get a stomach ache from that at all!" So of course I did it.

I strongly suggest that sometime this summer you do two things; 1) Buy a pint of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream (and try really really hard not to eat it all as you stow it in your freezer. Save a couple scoops for step two...), and then 2) make some homemade cookies and turn them into an ice cream sandwich! Of course, you could go a step further and make your own ice cream. But trust me, the Brown Butter Almond Brittle is perfectly paired with salty-sweet peanut butter cookies in an ice cream sandwich...you won't be disappointed.

Here's the recipe for the Peanut Butter Cookies originally from JIF on Allrecipes.com. Instructions on how to build your ice cream sandwich follow.
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 3 Tbsp Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Combine brown sugar, JIF peanut butter, shortening, milk, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg. Beat until just blended. 
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix until just blended. 
  4. For uniformly-sized cookies, use a cookie scoop drop to drop cookies on to cookie sheet, 2 inches apart (or roll into a ball and place on the sheet). Flatten slightly with a fork. 
  5. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until just set and beginning to brown. Do not overbake. 
To form the ice cream sandwiches, make sure cookies are completely cool. Working quickly, take two cookies of similar diameter. Place one scoop of ice cream on the non-forked side. Match up the other cookie, and wrap in wax paper. Store in the freezer until firmed up. Then eat it! 


Monday, June 18, 2012

Lemon Rhubarb Snack Cake


In my CSA box from a couple of weeks ago I got a bunch of rhubarb. I'll be honest, I've eaten rhubarb maybe once or twice in my life. I have certainly never cooked with it. I saw some photos around the web for lemon rhubarb cake, muffins and bread, but when I saw that one of my favorite food bloggers, smitten kitchen, blogged a Rhubarb Snack Cake that used really simple, on-hand ingredients I bookmarked it to try with all the rhubarb I got.

This cake is very yummy. Tang, sweet and very much snackable. Plus you just bake it in a regular 9x13 pan instead of getting fancy with a loaf pan or bundt pan.

I added more lemon juice and lemon zest than the recipe called for since we're a lemon-loving household. That's really the only modification I made to the recipe. I'd certainly make this again, and think the lemon base is easily adaptable to any fruit that is available to you like blueberries, or raspberries.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen:
Ingredients:
Cake -

  • 1 1/4 pound rhubarb, trimmed and ct into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Coat bottom and sides of 9x13 inch baking pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Stir together rhubarb, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar and set aside
  3. Beat butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides after each addition. Add one third of this mixture to the batter, mixing until just combined. Continue, adding half the sour cream, the second third of the flour mixture, the remaining sour cream, and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing between each addition until just combined. 
  4. Dollop batter over prepared pan then use a spatula to spread the cake into an even, thin layer. Pour the rhubarb mixture over the cake, spreading it into an even layer. 
  5. Stir together the crumb mixture, first whisking the flour, brown sugar, table salt and cinnamon together, then stirring the melted butter with a spoon or fork. Scatter evenly over the rhubab layer. 
  6. Bake cake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes until cake batter is set (test with toothpick). It will be golden on top. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Green Garlic, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Frittata



Chris and I signed up for a CSA this year for the first time. For those of you who aren't familiar, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a great way to get fresh veggies and fruit or even eggs, herbs, meat and flowers from local farms. Since we're a tiny house of just two people, and don't eat tons and tons of veggies to begin with we opted for an "every other week" share from Keewaydin Farms. Madison, being the local food scene that it is, has a plethora of CSAs from which to choose. Frankly the number of CSA programs available made it a little overwhelming for me to finally settle on one in years past! But, this year I stumbled upon a great resource to find this particular farm. The CSA Coalition website has a search function allows you to narrow down all the farms based on what they offer (Fruits, Veggies) or search by pickup location. My pickup location happens to be a cute little bakery in downtown Middleton called Bloom Bake Shop...you know, just in case I also need to buy brownies or cupcakes at the same time...obviously.

So, tonight marks my first CSA box ever and it was filled to the brim with radishes, asparagus, rhubarb, spinach, mixed salad greens, Jerusalem artichokes, and green garlic. So awesome! Just enough unfamiliar things to try new foods & recipes (Jerusalem artichokes and green garlic), balanced with familiar things that I already know how to cook with (spinach, asparagus). Stay tuned for recipes using these lovely ingredients.

Tonight I was a little short on time since I worked late, had to swing by the bakery to pick up my veggies, and head to the grocery to fill my bare pantry. So, a frittata with simple green salad was super quick to make. I love goat cheese so this was a great way to consume it, while eating a lot of healthy spinach, green garlic. This will be delicious reheated in the morning, sandwiched between two pieces of toast. Maybe with some more cheese on top!

Recipe inspiration comes from Simply Recipes. Enjoy!
Ingredients: 
  • 8 ounces of spinach, washed, drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 ounces of goat cheese

Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. In large, oven-proof, non-stick saute pan, wilt spinach with 1/4 cup water until barely cooked, about a minute. Drain water and set aside till cool. Rough chop. 
  3. In mixing bowl whisk eggs, milk, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until combined. Set aside. 
  4. In the same large saute pan you used to cook the spinach, dry the pan and heat olive oil on medium heat. Cook green garlic until translucent and soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add spinach back to pan and spread out into an even layer in the pan.
  5. Add eggs to the pan and let set until the edges begin to set. Lift edges and tilt pan to let unset eggs underneath. 
  6. Transfer to the oven and cook until set, approximately 10 minutes. Serves 4
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Roasted Poblano Pepper Macaroni & Cheese

 
Poblano peppers are quickly becoming one of my favorite peppers to cook with. When roasted, they impart a not-to-sweet, not-to-spicy flavor to any dish. I had one left over from the night that I made Bistec con Rajas y Queso, so I thought, why not use it in my mac & cheese?  

My go-to recipe for mac and cheese is one I've been using for probably the last eight years. I originally found it on allrecipes.com, and it is so creamy and yummy. Usually all I add to it are red pepper flakes, but the poblanos were very tasty too. 

This recipe uses a traditional approach of a roux, and the cheeses can easily be changed to whatever you have on hand. The recipe below is the modified approach I took the other night. Enjoy!

Adapted from Down Home Macaroni and Cheese, from Allrecipes.com
Ingredients: 
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 ounces of monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces cheddar, shredded
  • 2 ounces queso quesadilla cheese, shredded
  • 1.5 cups of shells
Directions: 
  1. Under broiler set on high, roast poblano pepper until charred on all sides, roughly 10 minutes. Place in ziploc bag until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin and seeds, chop into large pieces and set aside.
  2. Cook shells in pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in large skillet on low heat. Blend in flour and salt stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in milk, stirring constantly with a whisk until thickened. Add cheese and stir until incorporated and melted.
  4. Add shells to cheese mixture and stir to incorporate. Carefully add the chopped poblano peppers. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until you can no longer wait!

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