Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gnocchi in Brown Butter and Sage

Adapted from Marc Forgione's recipe on Food Network.
1 lb store-bought gnocchi
6 T unsalted butter
1/2 to 1 t crushed red pepper
6 sage leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter develops brown flecks and smells nutty. Watch it closely to keep the butter solids from burning. Remove from the heat.
Bring 3 quarts of lightly-salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, reduce the heat to a slow boil, and wait until they float to the surface. Simmer a minute more. Taste one to make sure it's cooked through. Rewarm the brown butter over medium-low heat. Scoop the gnocchi from the pot with a spider or slotted spoon, transfer to the skillet and toss until some of the brown-butter flecks stick to the gnocchi. Add the red pepper flakes, sage and a few tablespoons of the gnocchi cooking water to form a sauce. Toss again. Add more gnocchi water if needed. Off heat, mix in half of the cheese. Divide among bowls and top with the remaining cheese. Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as part of an multicourse meal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roasted Vegetables II

Prepared October 19, 2012. Accompanied grill-roasted turkey breast and mashed potatoes and gravy. A Family Favorite.
1 large sweet onion
1 large red sweet pepper
2 large portobello mushroom caps
about 1/4 c olive oil
1 t dark sesame oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 T soy sauce
1/4 t garlic powder

1/2 t sugar
1/2 t smoked paprika (optional) 
1/4 t ground black pepper
Preheat a toaster oven to 425 degrees F (218 C). Peel the onion and cut into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) thick slices parallel to the equator, and separate into rings. Remove the seeds and membranes from the pepper and cut into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) by 1 inch (2.5 cm) strips. Remove the stems, wipe the outside of the caps with a moist cloth, and slice the mushrooms into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) wide strps. Place the vegetables in an 8 X 8-inch (20 X 20 cm) metal baking pan. Drizzle on the olive oil and toss the vegetables with tongs. Add the other seasonings and toss until well-coated. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes. Toss, and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are nicely colored and tender. Serves 4 to 6.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Salt and Pepper Biscuits

First prepared in Autumn, 2012. Good with pea soup, and other hearty soups and stews.
4 frozen buttermilk biscuits (Pillsbury™ is good)
cooking spray
water spray
coarse salt
coarsely-ground black pepper
Preheat toaster oven to 375 degrees F (191 C). Treat baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange frozen biscuits, not touching. Spray them with cooking spray. This keeps the crust tender. Spray tops lightly with water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until tops are nicely browned. Let cool 5 minutes before splitting;  serve with softened butter. Good alongside stews, soups, and hearty salads.

F --> C Temperature Conversion Table for Cooks

Temperature Conversion Table
 Fahrenheit   Celsius    C(Approx)
      79          80
         93          95
        107         110
        121         120
        135         135
        149         150
    325         163         165
    350         177         180
    375         191         190
    400         204         205
    425         218         220
    450         232         230
    475         246         245
    500         260         260
    525         274         275
    550         288         290

Roasted Cauliflower and Pepper Soup

The vegetables ready for roasting
Prepared October 15, 2012. Can be prepared as a conventional, vegetarian, or vegan dish.
large head of cauliflower, trimmed, cored, and cut into florets
1 large sweet red pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 jalapeƱo peppers, membranes and seeds removed, and coarsely chopped
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 t garlic, chopped
olive oil, as needed to coat the vegetables lightly
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 T dry)
1 T salt
1/2 T sugar
1 t ground black pepper
3 c water
3 c chicken or vegetable stock
juice of a large lemon
3/4 c half and half, or light cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Place vegetables in an open roasting pan. Drizzle on oil, and toss lightly to coat. Add the thyme, salt, sugar, and pepper. Roast until lightly colored and softened, about 40 minutes. About half of original volume will remain, concentrated in flavor. Transfer to a heavy 6-qt pot. Add the water and stock. Simmer covered until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs, set half the vegetables aside in a bowl. Blend the rest until smooth with an immersion blender. Lightly blend the reserved vegetables and return to the pot. Stir in the lemon juice, and adjust the salt and pepper. Stir in cream, if desired. Yields about 3 quarts.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Microwave Potato Meal

Recorded October 9, 2012. Tasty, nutritious, cheap, and fast. Breakfast or lunch or dinner. Oiling the skin, keeps it tender in the microwave, and the crust of salt adds flavor and texture.
1 medium russet potato
vegetable oil
kosher salt
1 T tub margarine or butter
1/3 c low-fat cottage cheese
2 T low-fat sour cream
1 t chopped chives or green onions (optional)
Scrub and dry the potato. Prick with a sharp knife about 10 times. Oil the skin, moisten the top, and sprinkle on the coarse salt. Microwave on high (1250 W) for 4 minutes or so. Cut lengthwise and then across, and press together edges to form a pocket. Scoop the butter or margarine into the hollow, mix in, add the cottage cheese, top with the sour cream, and garnish with chives or green onions.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Split Pea and Country Ham Soup

Prepared September 29, 2012. Modified from a recipe from America's Test Kitchen. An alternative to pea soup that doesn't require a meaty ham bone. Staged addition of ingredients cooks each appropriately.
2 T unsalted butter
1 large onion (about 1-1/2 c), chopped fine
1/2 t salt
2 t minced garlic
8 c hot water
12 oz country ham steaks, cut into quarters
1 lb green split peas, checked for pebbles and rinsed
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 t dry
2 bay leaves
1/2 T sugar
1 c (150 g) carrot, small cubes
1 c (150 g) celery, small dice
1/4 c (50 g) quick-cooking pearl barley (see Note)
freshly ground black pepper
Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When lightly browned, add the onion and salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add water, ham steak, peas, sugar, thyme, and bay leaves. Increase heat and bring to simmer, stirring frequently to keep peas from sticking. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the ham pieces and set aside to cool. Add the carrots and celery and return to a simmer. When the ham pieces are cool enough to handle, trim away the skin and fat, cut the lean into small dice, and add the meat back to the soup. Continue to simmer covered for 15 minutes, add the barley, and continue until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes longer. 
Variation: Replace two cups of water with a 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes. [Note: If using natural pearl barley, add it with the carrots to allow adequate cooking] Remove and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Season generously with pepper and add salt if needed. Hot buttered biscuits make a good side.