Monthly Archives: June 2009

Pasta al pomodoro

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I could probably just Twitter this recipe – it’s that simple:

Saute four cloves of minced garlic with a pinch of pepper flakes in 1 T olive oil. Add a handful of cherry tomatoes (mine were golden) or chopped tomato. When the tomatoes are broken down, toss in the cooked pasta (we used whole-wheat linguine), season to taste and add 1 cup torn basil leaves.

Finish with a dusting of fresh Parm-Reg. Done.

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Spiced nectarine cake

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I found this recipe the same time I found the strawberry-rhubarb and thyme shortcakes. And I’m happy to say that I’m 2-2 on good recipes! It’s from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious.com. And it is G-O-O-D. Something about it tasted … southern, or something.

I had saved this recipe until nectarines are in season, but then they went on sale at Albertson’s for 99 cents per pound, and I couldn’t resist. The cake sort of has the consistency of a coffee cake, and the cinnamon-spice adds to that similarity. Still, the cake is unlike any I’ve had. It would work well with any stone fruit – plum, peach, pluot, etc.

Ingredients:

1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature

3/4 c. sugar

2 large eggs

1 T fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)

1.5 tsp lemon zest (1 lemon)

1 1/4 c. self-rising flour

5 medium nectarines (about 1 3/4 lbs) – I actually only used two – cut into eight slices, or sliced medium. Don’t worry if they are not ripe – I had to carve the pit out of mine and they softened up perfectly once baked.

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3 T sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a spring-form 9-inch pan.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, then add 3/4 c. sugar until blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then lemon juice and zest. Beat in flour until smooth. Spread batter into the prepared pan, you’ll have to help it cover the whole area. It will look too thin, but remember it has self-rising flour.

Arrange nectarine slices on the batter in a pattern (I just spiraled them out until there was no more room on top). Lightly press the slices into the batter.

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Mix the cinnamon and remaining sugar and sprinkle it over the top. Bake on a sheet pan until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cut around the cake to loosen and remove the sides.

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The cinnamon-sugar will have caramelized on top and your house will smell spicy and delicious. Let the cake cool a bit and serve warm or at room temperature.

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I whipped up some sweet cream to serve along with it, but ice cream would also be good. Enjoy, friends!

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Strawberry-rhubarb and thyme shortcakes(gah!)

Lemon, thyme, rhubarb, oh my!

Lemon, thyme, rhubarb, oh my!

Elle and I took a bite, looked at each other and said, “I can’t believe WE made this!”

Strawberry shortcake says summer like a pair of flip-flops and capri pants. That hand-whipped sweet cream is pillowy heaven over the tart strawberries. And the simple shortcake provides an element of stability to the dish.

When I saw this recipe on Baking and Books, I instantly knew that I had to make it. Strawberry and rhubarb are two of my favorite flavor combinations. And the addition of citrus zest and the lemony thyme sounded interesting … I needed to find out how all that worked together.

It.was.awesome. The shortcakes were airy and buttery, even though they had no butter in them. I love the buttermilk in the dough – what a difference it made. And the lemon zest and thyme weren’t so strong that you instantly tasted them. Instead, they were more like another layer of flavor that added to the magic of the dish.

Try these for breakfast with your favorite jam on top!

Try these for breakfast with your favorite jam on top!

It was like you could smell the aromatics, but not necessarily get a big bit of them. Perfection.

The rhubarb compote was sweet and soft, too, and the uncooked strawberries stirred in at the end made the textures perfect.

I can’t even bring myself to copy and paste the recipe – just check it out for yourself. The only ingredients I had to buy that I didn’t have on hand were strawberries, rhubarb, self-rising flour, heavy cream and buttermilk.

The Web site is also a good reference because she shows pictures of all the baking steps. That way, you know that the dough is SUPPOSED to look like cottage cheese and no, you didn’t cook that rhubarb too long.

I highly recommend this dish for a Summer Solstice party or Fourth of July. Enjoy, friends!

An open-faced shortcake sandwich

An open-faced shortcake sandwich

Chicken with rosemary, lemon, garlic and wine, plus pesto potatoes!

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Yum-O, y’all! That’s right, this is a Rachael Ray recipe that I first made years ago and then basically forgot about because I moved on to more gourmet things…ha!

But I made it again last night and it got rave reviews. The chicken is roasted, so it is tender, juicy and tangy from the lemony seasonings. And the pesto-smashed potatoes are a nice side dish, even if I did use jarred pesto (hey, it was $2.50 at Trader Joe’s, leave me alone!).

Ready for roasting!

Ready for roasting!

So. For the chicken:

3-4 boneless chicken breasts (or one per person), cut into large chunks (2-3 cuts per breast, depending on size)

1 T grill seasoning (I used McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning)

3 T EVOO

zest and juice of one lemon

1/2 c. dry white wine (try the $4.99 pinot grigio from TJ’s)

4 sprigs of rosemary leaves

3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed

Preheat oven to 450. In a baking dish, add the chicken and coat with the olive oil, grill seasoning, lemon zest, garlic and rosemary.  Now, you can marinate this while you prepare the potatoes or…Roast for 20 minutes. Chicken will be just perfectly done, you can easily cut them with a fork. Pour over the lemon juice and the wine, then place in the hot oven with the heat turned OFF. Leave them in there for 5 minutes, or while you set the table.

For the potatoes:

1-2 lbs. red potatoes, cut in half

salt

1/2 c. chicken stock

1/2 c. store-bought pesto (or you could make it yourself!)

In a pot of boiling water, add a handful of salt. Then, the potatoes. Cook for 10-15 min. or until tender. Drain them and add the stock, then start smashing. Add the pesto and smash to your desired consistency (I like them chunky).

To serve, plate yourself some potatoes and then add the chicken, spooning the juices over everything.

This is a truly yummy dish that is great for entertaining or if some friends suddenly decide to come over. Enjoy, friends!

Family dinners: pot roast

Pot roast is one of those meals that I remember loving when my mom made it growing up. It’s the perfect poor cook’s meal because it’s cheap to make and the yield is high. And if you live with any meat-lovers (hello, boys), this will definitely satisfy them.

I started with my Cook’s Illustrated recipe (sorry, you have to pay to view it), which made sure to write a pot roast recipe that is distinct from beef stew, which has lots of root vegetables. I think that next time, I’ll add more veggies just to beef up the dish even more. CI also has some pot roast recipes with root veggies, which I recommend.

I got my chuck roast at Safeway’s discount meat bin for 30 percent off. I started by searing it with a little S&P and olive oil in my Dutch oven.

Then I let it rest while I cooked some chopped carrots, onion and celery (the trinity). I may have added some garlic in there, but you can basically do whatever you have on hand.

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Then, I put the roast back in and filled the Dutch oven with beef and chicken stocks until it reached halfway up the roast. Add a bay leaf, parsley and thyme. I popped it into a 350 degree oven and cooked it for almost four hours, turning it every 30 minutes (now you see why this is a good Sunday night dinner – you need five hours to cook!).

When the meat is done (a knife inserted comes out easily, showing you that the tendons and fat have broken down), take it out to rest while you jazz up the sauce. I added a half a cup of red wine and simmered the liquid until it reduced a bit. Don’t reduce it all the way, you want a lot of gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, I sliced the meat and served it over rosemary mashed red potatoes (that I made during the meat-cooking time) and spooned the sauce over the top.

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Enjoy, friends!