Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Witch's Brew

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble...Happy Halloween Everyone.

My posts are lacking because I'm pretty much chained to my desk right now. There is a veritable perfect storm or project deadlines I have to deal with. I had one go out last night, one out tonight, another out tomorrow, and then one more has to go out on Friday. I've been at the office from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm everyday since last week and there will be no end to that schedule until Tuesday of next week when I will either be dead from a massive heart attack or I will finally be taking some well deserved time off from work.

So I will try to post a few times over the next few weeks, but no promises. And if you don't see another post before Thanksgiving I am have definitely died and my cat is surely starting to gnaw at my dead decaying body. Let's hope you see posts before Thanksgiving.

The good thing about going to work at the crack of friggin ass, is that you have the most unexpected encounters with people on the street. Just yesterday as I was walking to work a nice man called to me and told me he just wanted to thank me for, and I quote, "making America beautiful". Well isn't that nice. I mean, he was homeless, had about three teeth, and was yelling to me from the bed he had made on the subway steam grate, but you know what, I still smiled, and laughed and thanked him for his kind words. I then pelted off in a hurry hoping that he wasn't following me. The sad thing was, that was the nicest thing anyone said to me yesterday. I should have given him my coffee. He wasn't there this morning when I walked to work, I hope he's ok.

So, I suck. The posts will be here and there from now until Thanksgiving. Believe me, I'd rather be at work writing recipe posts than actually working, but I got bills to pay and they write the checks, so bear with me - it will be better after turkey day.

PS. Yes, I did carve that pumpkin, I got mad skills.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Simply Pumpkin Biscotti

First. I'm working on about 4 hours sleep here because my Red Sox clinched a World Series berth last night (or actually early this morning) and I live in the Fenway, as in the neighborhood named such because Fenway Park is right down the street. After the win, the 34,000 plus fans in the stadium poured out onto the streets, turning the neighborhood into an all out block party. Don't you just love October? Don't you just love baseball in October?

Don't you just love naps, I'm going to need serious cat naps until after the World Series is over, I blame this on Fox Sports, whom it seems can't push first pitch back far enough, the games used to start at 8:00, as in first pitch at 8:00, now coverage at the ball park starts at 8:00 and first pitch happens somewhere around 8:35 or so, causing every game to stretch into the early morning hours, I hate you Fox TV and your stupid Chevrolet commercials, if I hear this is our country one more god damn time I'm going to lose my shit, really - get some new commercials because these are painfully, ear piercingly over played...this is our country ugh.

Anyway - with the games not starting until after 8:00 I seem to be finding more time in the kitchen at night, (considering I'm usually watching the game an hour earlier at 7:00) - so it affords me the opportunity to make even more ass expanding treats, oh joy. No really these are good, and not too fattening. Again, the recipe is from Elise at Simply Recipes and like most of her recipes it was easy and delicious.

Here is the link to her recipe.

Rating = So Damn Good

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gingerbread Scones

These lasted about 2.5 minutes in my house the day I made them. We just continued to eat them until they were all gone. Did I mention I need to get into a bikini next month for vacation? It's not going to be a pretty sight. Maybe I can buy one of those wraps that people wear around their waists when they go to the beach, but I'll just buy a really big one and hike it up to my neck so it covers my whole body. That should do the trick. Did I mention that this vacation is also all-inclusive, or as I like to call it, Bring on the moo moo, Jules is heading back to the buffet again, why yes, I'll have another frozen drink, I'm sure there are no calories in that, why don't my pants button food plan. It's gonna get ugly. Real ugly. I should be all set for fat pants by Thanksgiving, just put some ropes on my ankles and wrists and put me in the Macy's day parade. Anyway, the recipe is adapted from this Joy of Baking recipe.

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all purpose flour
3/4 cup (60 grams) old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup (72 grams) light brown
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons
baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (I used 1/4C butter and 1/4C applesauce)
Zest of 1
lemon (optional)
1/3 cup (35 grams) dried cranberries or cherries (optional)
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk (I used soymilk)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
1 teaspoon pure
vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in middle of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, spices, baking powder,
baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the lemon zest and dried cranberries, if using. In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, molasses and vanilla and then add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together. Do not overmix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches (18 cm) round and about 11/2 inches (3.75 cm) thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 3 pie-shaped wedges (triangles). Place the scones on the baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet inside another baking sheet to prevent the bottoms of the scones from over browning. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Rating = So Damn Good

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fettucine with Walnut Sage Butter Sauce

Another recipe that I saw on Lidia's Italy. It takes oh, approximately 10 minutes to make and is so good. As the pasta cooks you make the simple sauce which includes butter, chopped walnuts and chopped sage, that's it, maybe just a little salt and pepper and some of the pasta water after you have cooked it to al dente. You have no excuse for not making this meal any night of the week. I got the sage from my garden so it was bright and beautiful and fresh, but I assume you can use dried sage if that's what you have at home.

Fettucine with Walnut Sage Butter Sauce
I use all approximate measurements here, I just added what I had on hand.

1 lb fettucine (pasta cooked to al dente)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup chopped walnuts
10 fresh sage leaves sliced into ribbons
5-10 small sage leaves for garnish
Salt and pepper
grated Parmesan (optional)

While the pasta boils heat butter in a medium size sauce pan, over medium heat. When melted add the walnuts and sage ribbons and cook over medium-low heat until the past is cooked (about 7 minutes). When the pasta is al dente add pasta directly to the sauce in the pan. Add as much of the pasta water as you like to thin the sauce to coat all the pasta, (I added about a cup).

Serve with salt, pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.

Rating = So Damn Good

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese (and Soy Sausage)

Mmm Mmm Mmm. I made this dish for H&G who just had a baby girl. Needless to say, they haven't been getting a lot of sleep, and don't have a lot of time to cook, with you know, the breast feeding appointment the baby has been making every two hours at cafe leche tits; so CB and I decided to make up some dinner and bring it to them. This was a big hit, super tasty, super filling, super comforting, and G who's a big meat eater didn't even notice that the sausage was soy based and not meat based.

I took this recipe and split it between two 8-inch square baking dishes; I cooked one half and froze other for another night. This recipe came from the America's Test Kitchen, Best Make Ahead Recipes cookbook. Again, I have yet to make a bad recipe from any of their publications. If you don't have one of their cookbooks, do yourself a favor, ask for one for Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza, whatever you celebrate during the holiday season. These are such great resources to have in your kitchen. To know that a recipe will always come out great is a real comfort.

Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Sausage America's Test Kitchen
12 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese shredded (about 3 cups)
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 pounds ziti or other short tubular pasta
4 1/2 cups Marinara Sauce (I used the ATK Marinara Sauce I blogged here)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.

2. Meanwhile, mix the ricotta cheese, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper together, set aside. In a separate bowl, toss the mozzarella, Parmesan together until combined; set side.

3. Add 1 1/2 tbsp salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return the drained pasta to the pot and stir in the marinara sauce, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, and the reserved pasta cooking water.

4. Pour half of the sauced pasta into a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Drop large spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture evenly over the pasta, then pour the remaining sauced pasta over the ricotta layer. Sprinkle the top of the ziti evenly with the mozzarella mixture.

5. TO STORE: Wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. (If frozen, the casserole must be thawed completely in the refrigerator, about 24 hours.)

6. TO SERVE: Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the dish with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray (or use nonstick foil). Bake until the sauce bubbles lightly around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese begins to brown in spots and the casserole is completely heated through, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

TO SERVE RIGHT AWAY: After topping with mozzarella in step 4, bake the casserole in a 400 degree oven, uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is browned, 25 to 35 minutes. Sprinklw with the basil before serving.

Rating = So God Damn Good

Monday, October 08, 2007

Marinara Sauce | America's Test Kitchen

Ok. I know. Marinara Sauce, I've been gone for a week and all you get from me is f'ing marinara sauce. But it's really good, I swear, some of the best marinara sauce to ever grace your lips, so shut up and try it.

Life's been busy to say the least, it seems that every time I turn around another one of my friends has just given birth to another kid. It's no wonder we as a world are facing a population crisis, people are copulating and reproducing like rabbits, I swear. Except for in Russia it seems because just a few weeks ago they had what can only be termed, a stay home and mate until you make a baby damn it day. It seems that the birth rate in Russia is dangerously low, I think it's actually in the negative territory as far as births versus deaths which just seems weird to me because its seems wherever I go there are a veritable shit ton of newborns surrounding me. Its like I'm in a weird caricature and there's me and then all around me there are these little babies, and then hoards of pregnant people and then all the baby accouterments. Its weird.

If I seem harsh I don't mean to be, it's just that when you are in your prime, and happily married people always assume that your next big step in life is to get pregnant, when, in reality, my next big step in life it to try to find enough time to sit the fuck down. I am running crazy everywhere everyday and I just want to sit down without feeling guilty about what I am not doing because I have decided to stop moving for one minute. The other day CB asked why I looked a little stressed out and my only reply was because I felt like it had been at least three months since I had sat down. Now I know that's being over dramatic, but that is how I feel, go go go until you can't go anymore or you have a stroke, and I'm not sure which one is going to come first, so I'm feeling a little stressed and stretched thin.

So, back to the origin of this conversation, the babies, no I don't want to have children, yes, I'm happy as shit for my friends who have just had them, or are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant, but I don't want to have kids, I don 't particularly like wiping my own ass, nevermind someone elses, so let's just leave it there for now. When I'm not so tired, and not in such a heightened state of stress I will explain my mindset and where my heart is in the whole family planning arena, but for now, just know, I'm happy for all the moms, but more happy that I'm not one. And I saw Knocked Up this weekend, and I never need to experience childbirth, ever. I think I'm pretty tough for running three marathons, and I'm sticking to that being the most pain I have ever felt, I don't really need to experience the whole crowning time that takes place during childbirth, no thank you maam.

Oh, wait, did you come here for a recipe and not a diatribe on childbirth, well, I aim to please. Here you go.

Marinara Sauce
2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion minced
2 medium garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup dry red wine
ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (for serving)

1. Pour tomatoes into strainer set over a large bowl. Using your hands, open the tomatoes and discard any fibrous cores, skins, seeds, being careful to keep the tomato meats whole; let the tomatoes drain for five minutes. Remove 3/4 cup pf the tomatoes from the strainer, set side in a small bowl. Reserve 2 1/2 cup of the tomato juice and discard the remainder of the juice.

2. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat until simmering but not smoking. Add the onion and tbsp salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the tomatoes from the strainer and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to stick to the bottom of the pan and a brown glaze forms around the pan edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook until thick and syrupy, about 1 minute. Add the reserved tomato juice and bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook stirring occasionally, until th sauce is thick 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Pulse the sauce with the reserved tomatoes in a food processor (or insert an immersion blender) until slightly chunky, about eight 2-second pulses. Return the sauce to the dutch oven, add the remaining 1 tbsp oil, and season with salt and pepper, and sugar to taste.

5. TO STORE: Let the sauce cool uncovered at room temperature for 45 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 days.

6. TO SERVE: Transfer the sauce to a medium saucepan, cover and warm over medium-low heat. Stir in the basil and season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Thin the sauce with pasta cooking water and extra virgin olive oil as needed when tossing it with the pasta.

Rating = So Damn Good

PS. This recipe can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for 1 month.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Back from the land of - eh?

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. I had to go to Ottawa for work. I had never been, so I was excited to find a little bit of time to do some sightseeing on Tuesday. Another business development person from another company was there with me, so we decided to take the morning off and go tour Parliament. It was very neat, and amazingly beautiful. Here is one of the pictures of the inside of the building that I took while on the tour.

I have a lot of recipes piled up that I want to try, and I have a great marinara recipe that I will post tomorrow. Again, sorry for not posting for a few days, but I had absolutely no internet access while I was there.