Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Love Leftovers

My honey Daniele is from Piemonte, Italy. It is a land of rugged farm people making their living at the foot of the Italian Alps. He is fond of telling the story of how a Scot, a Jew and a Genovese got together and discussed being parsimonious. When they saw how very frugal the Piemontese farmer was, they cried for they knew they could never compete.

In that spirit, then, is the recipe for the Spaghetti Pie I made last night out of leftover spaghetti sauce and noodles.

Spaghetti Pie

4 servings worth of leftover cooked spaghetti
3 c spaghetti sauce (I had about 3 cups left over because The Brat refused to eat the spaghetti when he saw that I put a chopped onion and sliced mushrooms in it)
8 ounces grated mozarella cheese
1\2 c grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
3 stems fresh basil, leaves cut into chiffonade

Butter (or coat with olive oil)  the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish. Beat eggs lightly and add Parmesan cheese. Stir into pasta and then place in the baking dish. Place half of the grated mozzarella on top of the pasta.  Layer sauce on top of cheese. Sprinkle basil over all and top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so, until the cheese is bubbing, golden and melty.Makes 9 servings.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Turkey Soup

Okay, wazzup with the men I live with? Vegetables are anathema. Which exxplains how it is that I made a bitchin' turkey noodle soup with my turkey carcass -- and no one ate any of it except moi. After about a week, I was well sick of it despite its inherent deliciousness. Tired of looking at the pot and attempting to imagine how long it would take me, by myself, to consume a gallon of it, I decided to bundle it up and take it to my mother's house.

I got over there, soup in arm, and told her she could freeze whatever didn't get eaten right away. Then she told me that earlier this week when she went to visit my aunt Sammie, she was also gifted with leftover turkey soup. She was gracious about it, however, and pretended to be pleased.

Turkey Noodle Soup

1 turkey carcass
2 onions, chopped
2 celery ribs (include leafy ends) chopped
1 16 ounce bag of frozen peas and carrots
8 oz pasta of your choice (I'm fond of multi-hued rotini)

Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the carcass. Place over high heat. Upon boilage, reduce heat to low and simmer until the bejesus is cooked out of the meat and it falls off the bone. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

Separate bones from skin and meat. I put the skin in one pile to go in the dog's dish and dispose of the bones. Puppy girl loves me now -- at least until her next bath or manicure. Place meat back in the cooking water and bring back to a simmer.

Place onions and celery in the pot.  About 15 minutes prior to serving, add pasta and peas and carrots.

Freeze leftovers.
Servings: small army

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Rockin' Cookware!

Margaret has been my BFF since 1977. We met in college, when she was friends with my dorm roommate Martha. Martha took off for Seattle one weekend and didn't bother to tell her parents or anyone else where she was. Turned out that she suspected her boyfriend was dumping her and she was apparently stalking him. I guess when she learned that her parents had reported her missing and police interviewed all of us on her floor, Martha was too embarrassed to return to school and we never saw her again.

During her absence, Margaret and I walked over to the dining hall together. I was rather a loner in those days and it never occurred to me that I would be joined for dinner. We picked up our trays and went through the line. I headed for a table and was surprised to see that there was Margaret, placing her tray on the table across from me.

"Oh." I said. "I guess this means you're eating with me."
"Hmpf!," she replied. "I guess it does."

We've been best friends ever since.

I mention Margaret here because she thoughtfully sent me an Amazon gift card for Christmas. I decided that I was tired of using aluminum roasting pans for turkeys and whatnot and wanted something decent.

In a perfect world with unlimited resources I'd opt for something out of solid copper because it conducts heat so beautifully, or possibly compromise with the All-Clad, on sale for "only" $200. Or, given my previously stated fondness for Calphalon, theirs for a mere $127. However, it is not a perfect world, and even if I had all the money in it, I don't really think I could bear to throw it around.

Instead, I opted for a perfectly reasonable alternative, the Oneida roaster with a rack and non-stick finish, for less than $50. The pan arrived yesterday and is worlds away from the crummy foil pans. It is beautiful and durable and cleaned up very nicely.  I think I'll be using it for a long time to come. Its inaugural use was as follows:

8 skin on, bone-in chicken thighs
6 Roma tomatoes, innards removed and quartered vertically
3 smallish zucchini, cut approximately the same size as the tomatoes
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 largish cloves garlic, chopped
1 spring of fresh rosemary, chopped

Coat the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in pan and roast at 350 for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, place vegetables in a large bowl and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Toss. Add to roasting pan with the chicken. Sprinkle rosemary over all. Roast for another 20 minutes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Burger Bash Entry

Okay, I'm not entirely sure what possessed me. Maybe it was the thought that as a winner I would get airfare for 2 to Miami and last winter, when we had unseasonable amounts of snow and ice, and that sounded really attractive. Oh, if I'd won I had not the slightest intention of attending the SoBe Wine and Food Festival and cooking alongside Rachael Ray. No, I would have elected to spend my weekend on the beach soaking up some melanoma.

With that thought uppermost, I actually decided to devise a burger recipe for the much-hyped Burger Bash. Not that I think the world really needs another burger. Frankly I do not believe that one really needs more than a nicely grilled patty, salt and pepper, mayo, tomato, lettuce and a bun. My favorite was those slipping apart beauties at the now-defunct Portland restaurant Yaw's. But what the hey.

I didn't think my recipe was all that bad. A little different, a little weird, but it was surprisingly okay. The rules indicated that you were limited to 10 ingredients. If I had realized that salt and pepper didn't count, it would have turned out a bit differently.

What tortured amalgam of unlikely and seemingly incompatible foods could be thrown together ala Rach? Given her penchant for odd ethnic food pairings I finally hit on it: a cassoulet burger. But how could this complex, time-consuming dish be converted into a burger?

It wasn't really that much trouble. I googled many recipes and saw that the primary flavors were sausage and garlic. The Alsatian Cassoulet recipe I used as a starting point featured cabbage, apples, shallots and beer. In view of the 10 ingredient rule, including garnish, the most challenging aspect was to capture the essential flavors without going over the allowed number of ingredients.

I ended up with what I called the Aslatian Cassoulet Burger. Despite my best efforts to create something that looked as if it had been pulled straight out of the culinarily-warped mind of Rachael Ray the recipe wasn't half bad. Tasty, even. It included a patty made from turkey sausage and a topping made of shallots, sliced tart apple, vinegar and canned white beans.

The day for notification of winninghood came and went without me hearing that the judging panel adored my recipe and couldn't wait for me to go cook it alongside Rach. Can't really say that I was either surprised or disappointed, as I couldn't quite picture myself performing the requisite tongue-biting and brown-nosing that would be necessary in order to follow through with the ordeal.

However, many an eyebrow was raised around here when a very similar recipe  turned up on one of RR's sites. I couldn't exactly say that she ripped me off, especially since she left out poor old Granny Smith, but one is nonetheless left with an impression that this "contest," if not fixed, was promoted mainly to provide RR with ideas, of which a dearth burgeons daily. Harumpf!

At any rate, since Roachie-poo won't be featuring my recipe in her eponymous rag and I have not released copyright to it, here it is! Of course, it isn't exactly swimming in oil and cheese like your standard Rachipe, but it is different, creatively used the allowed number of items, was filling, high protein and low fat. Oh, no wonder it didn't win.

Alsatian Cassoulet Burgers
1 ½ lbs turkey sausage
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 large tart apple such as Granny Smith or Gravenstein, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 ½ c beef stock, dry white wine or beer
1 15 oz can of navy or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
¼ c cider vinegar
4 crushed wheat hamburger buns, toasted

Combine sausage and garlic and shape into 4 equal patties. Refrigerate until ready to cook. 

Heat vegetable oil in a medium sized skillet. When hot, add onions and apples. Sauté a few minutes and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Raise heat to medium high, then deglaze the pan with the stock, wine or beer. Bring to a boil and add beans and cider vinegar. Lower heat to medium and cook until liquid is nearly all gone, about another 10 minutes. 

While the apple mixture is reducing, fry sausage patties in a cast iron pan. Cook until juices run clear, 5-6 minutes per side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels, if necessary. Place on bottom half of bun. Top with apple mixture and bun top.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

No Food Network!!! How Will I Livvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve????

Um, sorry, but if some people cannot live without a thousandth repeat of Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee doing stuff that wasn't appetizing in the first place. why don't they just kill themselves now?

Seriously. Put yourselves out of your misery. Food Network has nothing of value in the first place (perhaps, once upon a time they did, but those days are long gone), let alone content that's worth double what they charged Cablevision in the past.

I admit I used to watch Alton Brown on Good Eats whenever I could because I loved the way he made the science aspect of food fun and approachable. Alas, now I have grown a bit weary of his shtick.

And I used to watch Giada de Laurentiis because her food looked appetizing, simple and easy to prepare. I've made several of her recipes and all were a hit at home. But when I read an interview with her where she dissed her colleagues as "boring" and said that "sexiness and sensuality" were what she "brought to the table," she lost me. Honey if I want to look at cleavage all I need to do is look down. No TeeVee required.

Word to Food Network: stop with the foodgasms already.