Foodie Blog

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Potatoes for Picky!

Note:  And yet another post that I never published. This time with photos!

And soup for me.  I thought, maybe there was a chance Picky would like my veggie soup.  I should have known better.  But then again, it did have bits of broccoli in it.  I was hoping to put that one past Picky.  He must have known it was there since he said he wasn't crazy about it.

What to do?  Potatoes of course!  Picky loves his potatoes.  If he could, he would marry them. I had these cute little gold potatoes.  So tiny!  What I love to do with them is to slice them up small, but not thin.  Then I like to toss them in a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, or any other mixed herb seasoning you might have on hand.  Then I like to put a bit of grated parmesan on top.  Magical!

But really, the key to really good roasted potatoes is to properly roast them.  You want to see them get a little crisp on the top, and really crisp on the bottom.  You want them to get a really nice golden brown.  And the most important key is to make sure you have small-ish pieces.  Big pieces will get cooked, but I find their consistency to be kind of chalky and gross.

Oh, here I am going on and on about potatoes that I didn't even eat!  Ok, the soup is really simple.  Chop up a bunch of veggies.  The ones you really need are onions, celery, and carrots.  You can toss in zucchini and broccoli like I did.  And then you cook them a bit, add your broth or water, doesn't matter.  Add some herbs.  And it's done.  You can leave it as is, or use a hand blender to blend it up (to try to trick Picky).  Next time, I'll just leave the veggies as is.

Roasted Potatoes

However many Potatoes you can eat, halved, then sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
Olive oil
Herbs (any kind you want) chopped up or grinded up
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan

Preheat your oven to 350.
Throw your potatoes on a baking sheet.  Pour some olive oil over them.  Put your herbs and salt and pepper on them.  Toss your grated parmesan on them.  Then toss around the potatoes on the sheet until everything is equally coated.  Make sure they are in a single layer.  Put in the oven.  Around the 25 minute mark, start checking on them.  You want them to be golden brown on the edges.  When they have reached that point, take out of the oven, and while still hot, loosen the potatoes from the sheet with a metal spatula if you have one.

Vegetable Soup

3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1/4 head of broccoli, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
3 tablespoons of olive oil
32 oz. of broth or water
Herbs, like rosemary, thyme, sage
Salt and pepper to taste.
1/2 cup of buttermilk or regular milk (optional)

Place a large soup pot on the stove over medium high heat, pour in your olive oil.  When olive oil starts to shimmer, add all of the chopped veggies.  Saute over the heat until slightly softened about 8 minutes.  Add the broth or water and bring to a simmer.  Add your herbs in.  After about 15 minutes, the veggies should all be softened.  Add your buttermilk or milk and let it come back to a simmer.  At this point you can use a hand blender to blend it up.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bad Blogger - homemade Ricotta, lobster, pasta

Note:  I was going through posts and realized I had a draft of a post that I never published.  Unfortunately, I think I erased the pictures I took of the ricotta and other things but I thought it was worth it to post this at least for the recipes.  Oh, I wrote this back in June.

I know, I've been a bad blogger.  I haven't been inspired to post anything lately.  The sun seemed to be playing hide and seek here in New England, mostly hiding.  But now it's out!  So I cooked up a storm this weekend.  Lucky for everyone who reads this.  I hope.
Anyway, the first thing I was inspired to make it was homemade ricotta after reading about it on Smitten Kitchen.  I admit, I've never been a huge fan of ricotta.  I've always had the ones sold in the supermarket, in the tubs with all the water.  The ones the consistency of a rubber brick.  Now tell me, how can anyone be a fan of that awful stuff?  After seeing the pics posted, I knew I had to make it.  Plus, it only requires 4 simple ingredients and takes less than half an hour of active attention.  Anyway, I used it in my pasta that I made.  But first, on to the recipe!

Homemade Ricotta
Makes about 1  cup of ricotta

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream (or you could use 3 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of heavy cream)
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F (I found that when mine reached this temp, it was at the point when the milk starts to rise up like it's almost going to boil over), stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Line a colander or a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey, or, if you like to make bread, I found several sources which say they've used it when making bread which I might try.  Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Obviously, with this softer and richer ricotta, I was inspired to make, as Picky liked to call it, an inside out ravioli.  I just called it adding the cheese to the pasta really.  There's not much to say about my pasta dish, except that or the cup of ricotta, I would only use about half the package of pasta instead of the whole package.

Pasta with Ricotta, tomatoes, basil and garlic

Serves about 2 people

1/2 a package of pasta (instead of linguini I would use something with nooks like rotini)
A couple tablespoons of olive oil
1 package of cherry tomatoes, preferably from a farmers market, cut in half
A handful of dried crumbled basil or fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of homemade ricotta
Salt and pepper to taste
More olive oil to taste

Boil pasta according to package directions in salted water.  While it is boiling, add olive oil to a hot pan.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the tomatoes.  After a few minutes, add the basil.  When the skins on the tomatoes start to wrinkle a little, add the garlic and cook for a minute.  Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan and add the ricotta as well.  Add salt and pepper to taste and toss all together until well coated.  Add more olive oil if desired.

While Picky was eating his pasta, I had some lobster.  Living by the ocean, I can get a fresh live lobster for under $10.  So after living here for so many years, I finally bought one.  But I couldn't bring myself to kill it.  I made Picky do it.  Basically, you position the knife somewhere between the eyes and beginning of the tail and push the point of the knife all the way through, then bring the rest of the knife down through the front of the head.  Then toss it in boiling salted water.  The lobster was only a little over a pound, so I boiled it for 12 minutes.  After that, I removed it and let it cool.  I used a tenderizer to smash open the claws and the knife to crack open the tail.  Then I squeezed some lemon juice and ate the yummy lobster.  I wasn't prepared for the roe that came along with the female lobster, however, I might make a roe aioli the next time I come across it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Grilled Chicken in Tapenade and Chicken sausage and veggie soup

What gives?  Yet another post in a week?  I guess this weather is finally inspiring me to share recipes.  Plus, I'm so excited for a cooking talk show that it has reinvigorated my passion for cooking.

Ok, I have two recipes for you this week.  One I got from watching The Chew and the other I got from ingredients I had laying around the house.  I guess you want the chicken first!  I know Peepers wants that one first! 
Yes, yes, enough talking and more food!  

Ok, I made the chicken for Picky while I was craving a delicious soup.  I can post whatever crap I feel like about Picky since he has informed me that he hasn't even checked my latest post!!  Picky has always turned up his nose at tapenade.  I know!  It never did anything to him!!  I think he just objected to the word tapenade in the first place.  He doesn't know what he is even objecting to in the first place.  Like if I was to say, "Picky, would you like some gelato?"  the word "no" would be out of his mouth before I even finished saying gelato.  If a word sounds weird to him, his motto is that the best answer is automatically no! 

I didn't tell Picky I was making a tapenade.  I just said I was making chicken.  And guess what?  He loved the tapenade!!  I just can't call it tapenade ever.  Ok, enough blathering.  On to the recipe!

Chicken Tapenade
Inspired by The Chew
This called for using anchovies, but you can imagine how Picky feels about anchovies.  I wouldn't be surprised if he called them Voldemort!
  • 1 cup Pitted Green Olives (or Kalamata will do as well)
  • 1/4 cup Capers
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 lb Arugula Leaves
  • 3 tablespoons White or Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Tapenade (made from above)
  • 2 teaspoon Fresh chopped Thyme Leaves (or 1 tsp dry)
  • 2 teaspoon Freshly ground Black Pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy!)
  • 4 Chicken Breasts, sliced open like a book.
  • 1 lemon
 1.   Take your olives, capers, mustard, red wine vinegar, and 1/2 cup of olive oil and toss them all in a blender or food processor.  Process or blend until your mixture has a somewhat smooth consistency.  This is your tapenade.  Put the mixture aside.

2.  Preheat your grill or boiler.  I used a cast iron grill pan that you can put on top of the stove.  Take 1/2 cup of the tapenade and put it in a bowl.  Add 1/2 cup of olive oil, thyme, pepper, and red pepper flakes and mix well.  Add your chickens to this mixture (made sure you have patted dry the chicken with paper towels before this) and coat well.

3.  If putting on a grill, lightly oil your grill before placing the chicken on it.  If you're sticking it in the broiler, then don't worry about oiling.  Because you cut open your breasts, the chicken should take 10 - 15 minutes to cook.  Make sure your grill or broiler isn't too high.  Medium heat is good.  Remember to flip the chicken half way through.

4.  While your chicken is cooking, take your arugula and put it in a bowl.  Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil and one whole lemon, squeezed, and pour it over your arugula.  flavor with salt and pepper.

5.  Place a bunch of arugula on a plate.  Put a chicken breast on top of the arugula.  Place a dollop of the tapenade on top of the chicken breast.  Now eat!

Sweet Potato, chicken sausage and kale soup
Good for cold days.  I pretty much finished this soup in two days.  I had it for lunch and dinner both days.  It was that good!

2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
4-6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 sweet potato, chopped
2 links of chicken sausage, chopped
Two handfuls of kale, chopped (make sure to remove the middle rib)
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
6 leaves of sage
Pinch of red pepper
Salt and pepper for taste

1.  Pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a big soup pot over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the carrots, celery and onion.  Stir and cook for a few minutes until all the veggies get soft.

2.  Add 4 to 6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock to the pot.  Raise the temperature slightly.  When the mixture starts simmering, add the sweet potato and bay leaves to the mixture.  When the potato is starting to get tender, add your chicken sausage, kale and the thyme and sage.  Continue to cook over medium heat.

3.  When the sweet potato is completely soft, add your pinch of red pepper and the salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat and serve!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is this thing still on? Or, How Picky learned to love Quinoa

Ok, I know I am a liar.  I didn't do an update like I promised.  So here it is now.  I have been taking pictures of certain meals and I will be posting them now, I promise!  So where was I?

Oh, I wanted to share this recipe for a great quinoa salad that I usually make.  I know, quinoa sounds like such a weird word.  But!  If Picky likes it then it must be good.  Plus it is super simple to make.  It takes less time than making rice (the regular kind, not the minute rice).  Do you have 15 minutes to spare?  You do?  Great!

Quinoa Salad

1 Cup of quinoa (either white or red)
2 cups of water or stock
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup of red onion or green onion, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 anchovies, minced (optional)
A couple handfuls of black or green olives, chopped (optional)
A bunch of basil, cut into slivers
1/3 cup of currants (also optional, but if you do add it, then don't add the olives)
1/4 cup of nuts such as pine nuts, sliced almonds, etc.
1 lemon, squeezed
1/2 to 1 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper for seasoning
a pinch of cayenne if you want spiciness
1/2 teaspoon of cumin

1.  Measure out your cup of quinoa and put it on the side.  Put your 2 cups of water or stock in a soup pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once your liquid comes to a boil, add the quinoa, cover, and bring to a simmer over low heat.  This should take 15 minutes to be done so set a timer so that you check on it.

2.  While your quinoa is cooking, chop up all of the remaining ingredients except the lemon, olive oil, and seasonings.  Put these ingredients in a large bowl.

3.  Hopefully, by the time you finish chopping, the liquid in the quinoa will be all absorbed.  Make sure the quinoa doesn't look soggy.  If all the liquid is gone but it looks soggy, then cover it and give it 2-5 more minutes.  Remove from heat and let the quinoa cool off for a few minutes.

4.  Once the quinoa is no longer hot (but it can be warm), add it to your bowl with all your chopped stuff.  Then add your lemon juice and olive oil as well as your seasoning.  Taste and adjust as needed.  Then enjoy!