Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Orecchiette with Kale and Garbanzos + Delicata Squash + Home-bottled Grape Juice + Baked Pears


Kale?  anchovies?  Sounds like I'm trying to be deliberately unappetizing.  Let me just say - cocoa powder is not too tasty either on its own - but in combination with the right ingredients, WOW!  And that's what happens when you combine pasta, winter greens and dried beans.  I don't know why, I don't know how - but WOW!

The optional but "highly recommended" addition of tinned anchovies brings in an indescribably subtle and satisfying subtext. You don't have to tell people how incredibly nutritious this dish is, they'll absorb more of the nutrients anyway because they'll be loving every bite.

Do try this dish at least once and see for yourself. At my house, this is the never-fail, super-quick, fall-back cold weather dish when I forget to put the beans on to soak the night before and dinner is needed within the half-hour. By the time the pasta is al dente, the greens & beans are ready to go. And rather than groans and moans, this meal is met with cries of "Yum!" while at least one child sets aside a portion to take in her lunch the next day. I usually make this without the Parmesan. Sometimes without the anchovies. Sometimes I substitute sardines instead. It's good whichever way I try it.

Orecchiette, "little ears" or "mouse ears," are a beautifully rustic hand-made pasta - it looks like you could make them yourself by flattening a small marble of dough over the top of your thumb. I usually substitute shells or gnocchi when I can't find orechiette at the market - any midsize pasta that will cup satisfyingly around the garbanzo beans will do admirably.


Orecchiette with Kale and Garbanzos
adapted from my favorite cookbook author Andrea Chesman's
366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains

Chop
  • 2 pounds kale (substitute broccoli rabe or collards, or a combination of greens
and then blanch in plenty of boiling salted water, until bright green and tender, 2 – 3 minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again.


In the boiling water, cook
  • 1 pound orecchiette
until al dente.  Drain.


Meanwhile, chop
  • 1 onion
and saute over medium heat in
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Add
  • 6 anchovy fillets, mashed (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
until the garlic is fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes.


Add to the pan the blanched kale and
  • 3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (2 cans)


and cook until heated, about 4 minutes.  Season with
  • salt (if needed)
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine pasta and vegetables.  If you wish you may sprinkle with
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
and toss well. 



Very satisfying with either (or both):

Baked Delicata Squash
(split lengthwise and seeds scooped out, baked cut-side down with about ½-inch of water in the baking pan.  350 degrees until soft.  About 30-45 minutes.)



Baked Pears
(left whole, pricked with a fork or knife tip, baked at 350 degrees until soft.  About an hour.  Cut in half and spooned directly from the toasted skin - which we don't eat - think of it as an all-natural candywrapper. You have never tasted a pear until you have eaten one baked - its flesh transformed into a delicate custard, its juices slightly carmelized - a richness that is at the same time light and subtly spicy.  People will wonder what magic ingredient you have used.  But it's pure pear, through and through.)




Monday, October 19, 2009

Lime-Glazed Coconut Snowballs & Pecan Wedding Hearts


Both of these recipes are from America's Test Kitchen Cookbook (with only slight adaptations)


Lime-Glazed Coconut Snowballs
Makes about 40 cookies
Prep 55 minutes (including making the dough)
Total time 1 hour 40 min plus cooling time

Whisk together
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ cup superfine sugar*
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • optional (but actually essential) 1 teaspoon lime zest
Then into the flour mixture, mix in one piece at a time
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces and softened
using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, then continue to beat until the mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1 to 2 minutes.

Beat in
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

until the dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Knead dough in the bowl by hand a few times until it form a large, cohesive mass. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, divide it in half, and pat into two 4-inch disks. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes (or freeze and then defrost in refrigerator).

While the cookie dough is chilling, whisk together in a large bowl
  • 2 Tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon of softened cream cheese
until smooth.

Add
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
and whisk until smooth, adding another Tablespoon of lime juice as needed until the glaze is thin enough to spread easily.

Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 375.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1½ inches apart. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, about 12 minutes, rotating and switching the baking sheets halfway through baking.



Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 min. Dip the tops of the cookies into the glaze and scrape away any excess, then dip into the coconut. Set the cookies back on the wire rack and let stand until the glaze dries and sets, about 20 minutes.




Pecan Wedding Hearts
Makes about 4 dozen small cookies
Prep 5 minutes (including making the dough)
Total time 45 minutes plus cooling time
Process in food processor
  • 1 cup pecans
until the texture of coarse cornmeal.  Then chop another
  • 1 cup pecans
Mix nuts together and combine with
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾  teaspoon salt
and set aside.

Cream together
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar*  
until fluffy and then add
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Combine nut-flour mixture and butter-sugar mixture.

Preheat oven to 325. 



Working with 1 Tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into 1-inch balls, slightly flattened into a fat disc.  Indent top of disk with the edge of a spoon to make heart-shape, pinching the bottom of disk with fingers.  Lay hearts on parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1-inch apart.  Bake until tops are a pale golden and bottoms just beginning to brown - about 18 minutes.  Rotate and switch baking sheets halfway through.

Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to rack.  Cool completely.  Roll cookies in
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
to coat.  Just before serving, re-roll cookies in additional powdered sugar. 

These can be (and were) made 3 days in advance, stored in airtight container, then re-rolled in powdered sugar before serving.


* to make superfine sugar:
Process ½ cup sugar  in a food processor 30 seconds and then measure out amount needed.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pumpkin Stuffed with Potato, Pea, & Mushroom Curry and Rice + Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (week of January 4 - 10)

Stuffed Pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cut lid as for jack-o'lantern from


  • 1 small pie pumpkin
and scoop out seeds. Prick all over inside with fork and rub interior with
  • butter
  • salt, pepper, mustard powder (to taste)
Add pre-cooked filling (leftovers with a handful of rice and some water - see below) and bake until pumpkin is soft (35 minutes or longer).



Potato, Pea, & Mushroom Curry (with added Red Butter)

We adapted another recipe from Sam Stern's Real Food/ Real Fast for this week's pumpkin filling. We started with a basic curry of potatoes, peas & mushrooms and then mixed in Red Butter Sauce to fill a couple of pumpkins - baked them - YUM!


Heat in a large pan

  • 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
Add
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Pinch of salt
Cook gently until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed
Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 green chile, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 medium cold cooked potatoes, cubed
  • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped (or an eqivalent amount of canned tomatoes)
  • ¾ lb. button mushrooms, washed, stalked and sliced
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
Cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring so it doesn't burn.
Add
  • 1 cup defrosted peas
plus a little water if they're dry. Cook 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cilantro.

[For pumpkin filling, stir in red butter sauce:


Melt in a large pan

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
Add
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Pinch of salt
and cook gently for 2 minutes.


Add

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chlii powder
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods (or 1¼ teaspoons ground
    cardamom)
and cook until onions are soft.

Add

  • 2 (15 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
and stir. Bring to a boil. Simmer on reduced heat for 10
minutes.


Add
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
Reduce heat.
Add
  • ½ cup rice
and some water. Fill pumpkin, cover with pumpkin lid and bake.]

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rinse and pull pulp from seeds. Soak in salted water for an hour, then drain in seive and spread seeds on cookie sheet. Bake at 350° until they start "popping" - about 10- 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Or here's an alternative method, from our local CSA

  • To toast pumpkin seeds, wash them in a sieve immediately after removing them from the pumpkin and clean off the pulp as much as possible.
  • Then toss the seeds in a tablespoon of oil and put them on a baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle on salt, as well as any spices or seasonings you might like, and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes for crispy seeds, or at 250 degrees for an hour for chewy ones.
  • Check on them in the middle of baking to stir, if necessary.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

West African Chicken-Peanut Soup + Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake (week of December 28 - January 3)

West African Peanut Stew

My older daughter got this spicy, and very easy, recipe from her friend and made it for my birthday. And then made it again, by universal request, the following week.


Prepare
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
cooked in
  • 4 cups water
  • pinch salt


In large skillet, over medium heat,

  • 4 Tablespoons Oriental (dark) sesame oil
Add
  • 2 cups (or more) diced chicken breast
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
and sauté over medium heat until onion is translucent and chicken is cooked.
Add
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chopped stewed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons chunky peanut butter
Heat through, but don't boil. Serve hot with rice.


Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

My younger daughter made my favorite cake to hold (all!) my candles. This recipe is adapted from one in Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook. The original has a full pound of butter and 3 cups of sugar, but this version is plenty rich - and so good with the blueberries we picked this summer.

Preheat oven to 325° and lower the oven rack. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tube or bundt pan.

In a large bowl, at high speed, cream together until light and fluffy
  • 1¼ cups butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
Add, one at a time, beating well after each,
  • 6 eggs
then set aside.

Sift together in a separate bowl
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Mix in another bowl
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Add dry and wet alternately to butter mixture, mixing by hand – just enough to blend thoroughly without beating, beginning and ending with dry. Before adding the last of the dry, toss lightly in it
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
then fold into the batter gently.

Spread batter into the buttered pan. Bake 60 minutes or more, until a sharp knife inserted all the way down comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a plate. Cool as long as you can before slicing.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Philadelphia Pepper Pot

(potato and green pepper soup)

from Blue Moon Soup: a Family Cookbook, by Goss and Dyer. My daughter has loved this beautifully illustrated children's cookbook for years. I've loved the soups she's made from it!

Boil

  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
in
  • 5 cups of water
until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, but SAVE the BROTH, and set potatoes aside.

Heat in a soup pot, on medium heat
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
(Or, if you are making bacon bits for the optional garnish, cook bacon in the soup pot, then discard most of the grease, leaving enough to sauté the vegetables)

Add
  • 1 small leek, chopped (1 to 1½ cups)
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.

Add half the potatoes and half the broth and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a blender or a bowl, blend or mash 1 cup of the soup until thick and smooth. Add another ½ cup of broth if soup too thick.

Return the blended soup to the pot. Add the rest of the potatoes and broth, and stir.