All About Food
Good food, good recipes, good cooking tips, good drinks,
and anything else an epicurean might dream up!
Sunday, January 30, 2005
What, no Chocolate?
Well, I have been looking high and low for a certain gooey-chocolatey recipe that I wanted to add to this blog, but haven't found it yet. So, unfortunately, I will have to post a NON-chocolate recipe as my first contribution for this site. But don't be too disappointed, my fellow chocolate lovers! The recipe I have to share with you is utterly delicious!!

PASTA ALLA PUTTANESCA

1 pound very ripe tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
25 large leaves fresh basil, approximately
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried pasta (bow-tie)

Cut tomatoes into small pieces and put in a bowl. Chop the garlic coarsely and add to bowl, then tear the basil leaves into thirds and add to the bowl, along with the oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients together, then cover the bowl with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving time, bring a large amount of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, tender but firm (about 12 minutes). Drain quickly and place it in a serving bowl.

While the pasta is still extremely hot, pour the refrigerated tomato mixture over it. Toss very well and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 462 Calories (9% protien, 53 % carbohydrate, 38% fat)
Exchanges: 1 Vegetable, 3 1/2 Starch, 3 1/2 fat

I found that using 1/3 of a cup of olive oil works out better, but you can experiment. This is a wonderful, easy pasta dish that even tastes good warmed up the next day!

Next time, I promise.... a chocolately treat!
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Cookies...
Last night I had the worst carving for cookies. So I decided to whip up a new recipe that a friend emailed me.

NEIMAN-MARCUS COOKIES (Recipe may be halved)
2 cups butter
24 oz. chocolate chips
4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
5 cups blended oatmeal
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

Measure oatmeal, and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar, and nuts. Roll into balls, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Makes 112 cookies.

I halved the recipe, and made 6 dozen 1.5 to 2 inch cookies. They taste quite good, but they seem a little dry. I personally would have liked it if they had more vanilla and maybe another egg. But my husband loved them. In fact, I had to put them away before he ate them all.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Yummy Fries!
Of course the best fries are those made from scratch. But really, who has time to peel, cut, and fry those things? This evening I waited until the very last minute to make dinner, partly due to laziness, and partly due to not knowing what to make.

What saved the meal were these thing I had stowed away in the freezer.

*GASP*

Yes, frozen fries. But not ANY frozen fries. I happened to buy these at Costco (so, imagine a big gigantic bag), and they're actually pretty healthy as far as frozen fries go. Not much in the ingredients, which is a good thing. Of course, they taste best deep fried, and I realized it's MUCH faster to do that (3-5 minutes!) than it is to bake them (25 minutes!).

Even though I had already eaten dinner, there I was making these french fries on the back burner of the stove, with the paper towel-lined collander resting on the front burner, right under my nose. So I kept munching on these things, and when my husband came home, he started doing the same. They're so good, especially while piping hot, with just a sprinkle of salt.

So go to www.alexiafoods.com, enter your zip code and find a store near you that carries their products. They might be a little more expensive than the run of the mill Ore Ida frozen fries, but they're SO GOOD.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Perk Up That Mediocre Sangwich
Yep, that's how my husband's very Italian grandmother says "sandwich". I'm not a big sandwich eater. I think they're generally pretty boring, so I only eat them when I'm in a big hurry to throw something together. But adding some Italian style tomatoes can make such a difference!

Just slice up some tomatoes, cover them with extra virgin olive oil. Add a sprinkle of red wine vinegar. A dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano. And voila! Simply stack them up on that sandwich meat like you would normal, naked tomatoes. If you really want extra flavor, add some romano cheese (freshly grated is a MUST!) in the mix.

Okay, time to grab a sandwich. I've made myself hungry!
Friday, January 14, 2005
A Teaser...
Do I dare post the generations-old recipe from my husband's Italian side - the family recipe for biscotti? Not everyone makes these cookies, even though they are Gramma A's favorite cookies of all time. But I got bored one day (this was years before I had kids) and decided to try and make them, and of course I changed a thing or two, which noone knows about - so sssshhhh!! So now I've become the official maker of what Gramma calls 'dem 'talian cookies'. One recipe yields a TON of cookies... in fact I mistakenly tried to make a double recipe once and that had me in the kitchen for 5 hours - yes, every single finger on your hand - THAT is a pretty damn long time to be baking cookies. So, a double oven would be really good to have, not to mention a Kitchenaid mixer (mine is the second-to-biggest model, and it nearly croaked on that double recipe!), but before I got any fancy gadgets, a single oven and a handmixer did just fine. Just don't make a double recipe.

But first, I need to know who likes biscotti? Not everyone does... it has that distinctive anise taste, which is just like a hint of licorice. Gramma A says that in the olden days, people used to sit around after dinner and dip these cookies in their red wine. Nowadays, of course you'd find them at every coffee shop since they're so ideal with coffee or tea.

So I'll post the secret recipe for anyone who would like to take on such an endeavor, even if I risk being excommunicated. But only if you really want it! :)
Nestle Toll House Cookies...sortof
The timeless recipe...Nestle Toll House Cookies. So simple, and yet, somehow I did a doozy.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions:
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

[Recipe copied directly from VeryBestBaking.com]

Over the years, I've used this recipe so many times I thought I nearly had it memorized.

I had an inkling to make some cookies, so this afternoon I whipped out my bag of chocolate chips, half glanced at the back of the bag to peek at the recipe for a refresher, grabbed the ingredients I needed, and began tossing out half a batch.

When the recipe calls for the flour, salt, and baking soda to be mixed in a small separate bowl from the butter, sugars, and vanilla....I do believe it's for real.

Don't do like me and toss in the flour, salt, baking soda, sugars, and melted butter into your mixing bowl all at the same time. It.doesn't.look.right. Oh and I ommitted the vanilla too...who needs vanilla anyways? Trust me. The.cookies.do.

When you've mixed up all the ingredients...THEN add in the chocolate chips (and nuts if you so choose). Don't mix in the chocolate chips, dollup the dough out onto the ungreased cookie pan in nice spoonfuls, and then realize when your significant other says, "That looks funny." that you only put in half the flour that you were supposed to.

I tossed the dough back into the mixing bowl of my beautiful Kitchen Aid mixer, added the extra flour and mixed it up. The chocolate chips took great offense at this and began throwing themselves from their ill fated lives of flour suffocation all over the kitchen. Not that the dog minded.



Copyright Insanity Infusion

Taste tested by my husband. "They are pretty good!...different...but still good."

I still recommend following the recipe's directions as they are. My mindless modifications are not the way to make a good Nestle Toll House Cookie.

Samuel L. Jackson said it best


My girlfriend's a vegetarian, which pretty much makes me a vegetarian.

Times change, people change. My girlfriend is now my wife, and I've lured her out of her herbivorous ways (let's just call tuna a gateway meat). She still threatens to return to her dark paths occassionally but has yet to do so.

Out of those grim times have come a few real treats, though. If you don't own a copy of The New Laurel's Kitchen I highly recommend it, even if don't eat primarily rabbit food. Here's one of my favorite quick dishes of all time - the book's spine is broken at this spot if that says anything. It's called Black-Eyed Peas, Virginia Style.

1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup chopped celery (about one good sized stalk)
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
2/3 cup tomato, chopped
2 cups black-eyed peas, well cooked, with liquid
salt and pepper to taste

One thing I learned as a vegeterian is that certain ingredients are everything when it comes to the results. In particular for this recipe, the tomato you pick can make or break it. Get a nice vine ripened tomato which wasn't picked too early or too late. You want a good strong tomato smell, and you don't want it to be too firm or too soft. When you cut it open you want it to be juicy and dripping. With tomato crops what they are right now this might be hard, but see what you can find.

I'm ashamed to admit that in all my times making this recipe I have never cooked the black eyed peas myself. Someday maybe I will, but without doing that this is one of the quickest and easiest recipes around - just grab yourself a regular sized can of cooked black-eyed peas.

One more thing before I get into the directions - if you don't have a peppermill, stop reading this, get off the computer, put your shoes on (pants? okay, put your pants on too), and go buy one. Seriously. Fresh pepper from peppercorns is sooooooooo much better than the pre-ground stuff.

Alright alright I'll give you the directions now. Use a good sized skillet for this rather than a saucepan.

Heat the oil up to medium heat, and saute the onion 'til it turns a bit translucent. Add the celery and bell pepper, and sautee for a couple more minutes. Add the tomato and beans together (the whole can of beans plus its juices is perfect), and as much salt and pepper as you want. Remember that the canned beans probably are salted already so you won't need much. Let it cook for another 5 minutes, and you're done!

Serve immediately, preferrably along side a huge chunk of meat.

Thursday, January 13, 2005
Pancakes!
What I noticed when searching for a good pancakes recipe a few years back, there are many, MANY different ways to make pancakes! I've tried dozens and have had mixed results - some were too chewy, some too dry. But one that I stumbled up in the Fanny Farmer cookbook was perfect, with a little bit of my tweaking. So here is the reason why I can never, ever bring home a box of pancake mix.

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg
buttermilk (a cup and a half, depending on how thick you like them)
additions: sliced bananas, apples, blueberries (yum!), chocolate chips, etc.

Mix the dry together, then add the wet, and be sure to leave the batter a little lumpy. I usually throw the egg and buttermilk in first before the butter, that way the butter (which is most likely hot from being newly melted in the microwave) won't make the egg curdle - eew! As I mentioned above, the amount of buttermilk depends on how thick you like your pancakes, just add more as you mix. The original recipe called for a cup of milk, which I thought made the pancakes way too thick, and buttermilk is a tad thicker than milk is.

Use medium heat, and when the pan's hot make circles using about 1/2 a cup of the mix (again, depending on how big you like them). This is when I add bananas or apples or blueberries. Just drop them in. When you start to see bubbles forming, it's time to flip them over. When they're about done, I usually set the heat to LOW and let the outsides of the pancake get a little crispy. I do this because when you stack them on the plate, they tend to get a little soggy.

Oh, I've also used strawberries, but I've found that they're SO GOOD if you just sprinkle them on top of the pancakes and add a dollop of whipped cream. Mmm!

And save yourself a headache - use a nonstick pan, hehe.
What's better than a good bagel?
Sliced in half, toasted 'til the fringes turn golden brown, and then smothered in cream cheese. Open-faced for me, thanks! I like the 'everything' ones myself, or the garlic or onion will do in a pinch. When we picked out our toaster, of course I insisted we get one spacious enough to hold a nice fat bagel!

So what could be better? Why none other than the bagel's cousin, the bialy! I discovered them many years ago at a little coffee and pasty shop near where I lived. The owner, Barry, had moved to the west coast from New York and brought bialys to my neighborhood. Barry definitely is on my list of people to thank if I ever meet him again.

Slice them in half like a bagel, so that the outer rim pops off but the rest of the bialy is intact. Toast both halves up to a nice light golden brown, and (did you see this coming?) smother the base in cream cheese. Top with the outer rim portion of the bialy, and enjoy!

Unfortunately I have moved from bialy-land to Seattle, and have yet to find a source of them here. Maybe it's time to break out the mixer and get to work on trying to reproduce the masterpieces that Barry introduced me to so many years ago. Or, maybe someone will point me around the right corner to my new favorite pastry shop!

I've made myself hungry, so off I go.
Holy Moly Guacamole!
Ok, so I think there's a bazillion ways to make guacamole.

I keep mine simple...chopped up jalepeno, some diced tomatoes, some garlic salt/powder (depending on my mood for salt, which is usually full-bore), a little cilantro, some chili pepper...whatever comes to mind that seems tasty...oh yeah, and definately the avacados!

But, my point of this post is, most people tend to put in some lemon juice to keep the avacados from turning brown.

Instead of throwing away the big avacados pits when you make your guacamole, save them!

After you've mixed up your guacamole, instead of putting in lemon juice, just toss back in the pits and mix it up again.

The pits will keep your guacamole from turning and you won't have to use any lemon juice.

I doubted this technique until I tried it myself...it works!