Monday, February 25, 2013

fresh pasta and sauce with meatballs

So, my second foray into Nigella Bites was even more ambitious! 
I bought the Kitchenaid pasta roller and cutter set to help with this.  Money well spent.
The meatball mixture - pork and beef, breadcrumbs, egg and herbage.  I actually thought these could have used more seasoning.

Again, she likes to 'puree' her onion and garlic.  Again, I think I will skip this step.  Just dice those suckers and cook them down. 

The sauce with meatballs.  I was smart enough to do the sauce and meatballs on one night (while we ate leftovers) and the pasta the next.

The pasta dough resting.  I cheated and used my Kitchenaid.  Maybe I will knead by hand next time.  I used semolina flour.

Rolling the pasta flat.

Cutting the pasta.  The hardest part about all of this was keeping the pieces manageable.  They were really long and I didn't have enough hands to keep up.  So, I ended up cutting shorter pieces as I went.

Finished product.  It was really good and made plenty to freeze for later.  And, as with the risotto, we used the olive oil for bread-dipping. 

super bowl - pickle dip and pretzels

Jay and Beth came over for the Super Bowl so I made a few favorites.
Hard to get parents out on a school night. :)
I actually may have already posted these but here they are again!
Pickle Dip
(this uses the same ingredients as the cowboy sushi but is much easier to do.)
8-12 oz cream cheese
1 package of diced, precooked ham
4-5 large dill pickles, diced
dill pickle juice
Soften the cream cheese and add the diced ham and pickles. You can add/subtract either based on your preference.  Add a little pickle juice for more flavor and to thin it a little.  You will need the thickest ridge potato chips you can find to handle this.
(ok, sorta homemade as you start with frozen rolls)
These do take a little time because you have to thaw, cut and rise the dough.  Then you have to boil and bake them.  But, I promise, it is so worth it. I season mine with a little garlic salt and parm.  I made a cheese sauce but marinara is really good too.

nigella's lemon risotto

A friend loaned me Nigella Bites and I have been working my way through it (slowly). 
My first attempt at her food was this risotto
I am a sucker for risotto and don't mind all the stirring.  But, if you are tired and don't have much time, save this for later.  I have never been able to get risotto ready as quickly as the recipe says.  It is usually closer to an hour versus the stated 30 minutes. 
The arborio soaking up all the stock. 

The lemon zest and rosemary that will go in at the end.

The egg, cheese and cream mixture.  I really lightened this one up.  I used FF half-and-half and not nearly the butter she suggests.  It was still plenty rich!

The shallot 'puree.'  I'm not sure why she suggests this versus finely chopping it.  (She does it in other recipes as well.)  The pieces get cooked down so I don't mind the texture and this just requires something else to be washed.   But, if you want, feel free!   *I omitted the celery.*

The risotto finally soaked up all the stock.  I did have to use more than one container of stock.  And I used more stock, not water.

After adding the herbage.

I served it with some roasted asparagus.  Just S&P and olive oil will work.  I did add a little lemon juice and parm to keep the same flavors throughout the dish. 

I was recently introduced to this local olive oil and it is amazing!  We made a dipping sauce for some french bread to eat with this meal.  I love this container of olive oil spices I have.  Publix I think?  Oh, if you want the olive oil, hit up Rivers & Glen in Surrey Center. 

beer-braised chicken

I love this recipe!  It is fairly easy and makes a lot of food.  Very substantial one-pot meal. 
First cook the bacon.  I use my faux-Le Creuset dutch oven for this entire recipe.  Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle the thighs with S&P and dredge in flour.  I cut A LOT of the fat off of the thighs.  I know that's what makes it taste good but geez.  There is still plenty flavor, promise.
Chicken cooked in bacon grease - yes please.

Once all the herbage, stock and potatoes are added.

I probably should have served this in a bowl.  The liquid is the best part!

tomato tortellini soup

This was a really hearty, warming soup for a cold winter night.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Brad really liked it.  I thought it was a little too creamy and will probably use more tomato components and less stock or milk next time.  Also, I think it would really benefit from some fresh herbage.  So, I will probably dice and sautee fresh onion and garlic and use fresh basil as well next time. 

Overall, though, a very easy dinner. 

hash pinwheels

This is a very quick-and-dirty dinner.  I joke about it being trailerpark food but it is a lot like camping food.  Not super-healthy but we can't eat well all the time, now can we?
Make a traditional biscuit dough (I use a ratio of 4:2:1 of SR flour, buttermilk and shortening.  So, 2 c flour, 1 of buttermilk and 1/2 of shortening.)  Flatten it out on a well-floured surface.  I don't roll it but I guess you could.  Spread a can of corned beef hash all over the dough and sprinkle with pepper.  (I did use 50% reduced fat corned beef hash so I guess that's something.)
Roll the dough (from the long side) to form a pinwheel log.  Liberally flour your hands and tuck any loose ends in as you go.  Then, slice through the log and lay each piece on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 450 until gbd (golden, brown, delicious).

And to top if off, you have to smother it in a traditional cheese sauce.  Yummmmm.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

surin's thai coconut soup

Do you know Surin?  It is a Thai restaurant that started in Birmingham but I am pretty sure they have some in Atlanta now too.  I always loved their coconut soup and have been stockpiling various recipes through the years in hopes of being able to replicate it.  Of course, I had never gotten around to it when I stumbled upon this recipe claiming to be Surin's.  This one I had to try.  

The ingredients: chicken broth, coconut milk, straw mushrooms, lemongrass, garlic, lime, ginger, Thai red curry paste, cilantro, fish sauce and scallions.  I did ask for some help from our chefs at work.  They said to definitely use fish sauce and not substitute soy sauce.  They helped me procure that and the lemongrass.  I went to a local Asian market for the ginger, mushrooms, red curry paste and coconut milk.  That was an experience for sure but very cool!

The broth.  You start by mincing the lemongrass, ginger and garlic and sauteing until aromatic.  Add the red curry paste and stir until well-blended.  I just split the difference and used 2.5 teaspoons of the paste.  Start with 1/2 cup of the broth and stir until the paste is dissolved.  Then add the remaining broth, the fish sauce and sugar.  Let this simmer for about 20 minutes.

Per the chef's advice, I strained it before adding the coconut milk to remove all the woody lemongrass.  In fact, I probably could have done without mincing that since I removed it anyway.

The soup.  After straining, I added the coconut milk, drained and rinsed straw mushrooms and lime juice.  I used shrimp instead of chicken so I added those last and cooked just until pink.  

I also made a quick stir-fry with peas, carrots, bean sprouts and almonds.  

And, I love Publix's sushi.  On my shopping nights, I usually pick this up so I don't have to cook.  This is the crunchy spicy shrimp roll with brown rice.  Yummy!

The final plating.  I garnished the soup with cilantro and scallions.  

The soup was amazing and pretty much identical to Surin's.  I will say it may have been a little creamier.  So, I may leave out some of the coconut milk next go-round.  Also, it is VERY high in fat (see the nutritional information if you dare) and very filling.  If you are going to make it, do so on a day when you haven't eaten much else.  Ha.  

Brad caught me in action.  He had to have his handiwork included on the blog.  :)

My apron is from Garden & Gun.  Part of my Christmas was their 'Sideboard' program.  You get 8 packages throughout the year with the first being an apron, kitchen towels and recipes.  The remaining 7 will be regional food items.  They arrive every 6-8 weeks and I am so pumped to get my first one!    

Thai tea.  I have no idea what's in it but it is amazing.  Tastes like a milkshake.  Mmmmm.

The soup got a thumbs-up from the boys.  Totally unsolicited of course.  

Levi's dog, Loki, is the cuddliest, most lovable animal.  I was stuffed after dinner but he kept coming over to snuggle.  I couldn't say no to this precious thing.