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Archive for July, 2011

This was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s spaghetti with lemon and olive oil.  I basically just stole her delicious sauce, and cooked shrimp in it, then served over some gnocchi that my mom bought me at her local Italian market.   This is a pretty simple dish, with a lot of flavor.  And like a lot of things I try to do, you should already have almost everything at home, so it can be a great impromptu meal.  Also this is a great recipe to improvise with (as with almost any pasta + sauce dish!).

What you will need:

  • Gnocchi (or pasta)
  • 3 or 4 lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 heavy cream
  • at least 1/2 cup grated or shaved parmesan cheese
  • anywhere from 1/2 to one pound of shrimp
  • salt & pepper

Get your pot of water a-boiling, and cook your gnocchi/ pasta to your liking. While the pasta is cooking, you should zest the lemons until you get a tablespoon of zest, then juice all of them.  Also get out all your other ingredients and measure them out.  Clean and peel shrimp if you haven’t already.

After you drain the pasta, set it aside (and save 1 cup of the pasta water in case you want to thin out the sauce later).  You can now use the already dirty pot to make the sauce.  Add the cream, pasta water, lemon zest, shrimp and olive oil to the pot and boil for 5 or 6 minutes (basically until the shrimp is cooked).  Make sure you are stirring constantly so you don’t get a burned layer going on the bottom of the pot.

makin' some sauce!

Once the shrimp looks good ‘n pink, add the pasta back to the pot, along with the lemon juice and parmesan cheese.  I kept the stove on low for this step, to help the cheese turn into melty gooey awesomeness.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Then plate and EAT!  Cheesy parsley garnish optional (I had to justify the parsley plant outside with a reason other than the fact that it’s the only herb I can keep alive for longer than 3 weeks).

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This is adapted from Lottie + Doof.  I was inspired not only by that lovely blog, but also by the sweet, delicious and CHEAP corn that is available right now.  Ahh, summer.  Please do check out the photos on L+D because they are at least a thousand times better than mine.  Also, way cuter bowls.  So anyway, this is basically just pasta with a pesto sauce made from corn instead of basil.

What you need:

  • Bacon.  I used two pieces of very thick cut bacon.  I cut them up into about 1 inch pieces, but next time I will cut the pieces much smaller
  • Fresh corn kernels.  I used about 3 cups (4 ears).  TIP: shave off the kernels in a large bowl because they totally fly everywhere
  • Garlic, minced.  I used about two tablespoons, but I am a garlic fiend.
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 package of spaghetti, or whatever pasta you have
  • Basil, fresh
  • Deep skillet, preferably cast iron
  • food processor or blender

First things first, BACON.  Fry the bacon in a deep skillet or cast iron pan.  After you have the bacon going, start boiling water to cook your pasta, then cook your pasta, heh.  Let it cook until it is your preferred amount of crispy, then remove from the pan.  Add in the corn and spices to the bacon fat (if you use more than a few pieces, you may have to spoon some out, you want only a few tablespoons).  Saute and stir until the corn is good and cooked, it should take about 7 minutes.

Corn ready to be pesto-fied!

Save about 1 cup of the corn mixture and set aside.  Put the rest of the corn and most of the parmesan cheese into a food processor and press the magic button.  Slowly add the olive oil through the top hole or feed tube.  Process until it looks like a pesto (only yellow!).  Remove from the processor and toss with the (now hopefully cooked and drained) pasta, reserved corn and bacon, then serve.  Ideally you would have some delicious fresh herb to add into the mix, too.  Mine got wilty and gross before I got to use it 😦

This photo would be so much more appealing if there was some fresh, green basil… But trust me, this is REALLY YUMMY.  Totally unexpectedly good!  I fully intend on making a bunch to freeze for the sad wintertime when fresh sweet corn isn’t 20 cents an ear.

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Strawberry Jam

I have been wanting to make jam, even though I am not a huge fan.  I guess I figured maybe if it was homemade it would be more awesome and I’d love it (like banana bread).  So I asked my good friend Google how to make jam, and came across this post on how to make freezer jam, which means you don’t have to boil and do the whole drawn out normal preserving process for jams.  This is seriously SO easy, guys.  Don’t be intimidated – just try it!

Things you need:

  1. Fresh Fruit.  I used strawberries
  2. Sugar
  3. pectin.  I used the Sure-Jell low sugar version (pink box).  I picked this one because it was one of only two options at my local Vons, and also less sugar is good.
  4. Some type of freezer safe containers.  I used 4 oz canning jelly jars.  Tupperware or things like that would work spendidly, too.
  5. Preferably a food processor, or blender.

So wash your fruit, cut off any unwanted parts (green tops of strawberries for example).  Process the fruit until it’s mostly a jam-like consistency, depends on your preference if you want chunks or not.  Then comes the hardest part: MATH, ugh.  You gotta figure out how much sugar and pectin to add based on how much fruit you have.  I had about a cup of strawberry mush, so I added 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of pectin.  Math is hard, guys.  Now give it a good stir.

strawberry mush jam

Almost done… The last step is simply putting the jam in your freezer containers (don’t forget to leave space for the jam to expand when frozen!).  You can leave one container for the fridge, if you like (I did).  You should put the jam in a few small containers, instead of one big one, because the jam only lasts a few weeks.  I had about 11 or 12ounces of jam and separated them into four 4oz jars.

So I was right… I like this stuff loads better than any other jam I have had.  It tastes very fresh, and extremely strawberry-y.  I had to stop Boyfriend from eating the whole jar with a spoon.  I can’t wait to make breakfast on Saturday just so I can have a generous helping of jam.

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I have been exploring the blog-o-sphere a lot lately, and have found some great new food blogs!  Today’s post comes from my favorite new food blog, Lottie + Doof.  I was inspired by and adapted his recipe for asparagus with butter and soy.

This is a really simple recipe.  All you need is asparagus, olive oil, S&P, soy sauce and fresh eggs.

I already had the oven on making some baked red potatoes in preparation for this wonderful side dish:

red smashed potatoes with butter and bleu cheese

So I thought, why not save a few pots and just roast all this asparagus while I am at it.  Another contributing factor is that I had way too much asparagus to be sauteing in a pan, even my biggest wok (read: haven’t eaten my fresh asparagus for two weeks now…).  So I roasted these suckers the way I always do – sprayed with TJ’s olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  This time I added a very generous amount of soy sauce, sprinkled all over the top.  It was at least 4 tablespoons (but also keep in mind that I had two large bunches of asparagus).  Then I baked at 400 (only because that’s what I had the oven on for the red potatoes) for 15 minutes.

Then I began my very first egg poaching experience.  While I deemed it successful, I am considering buying an egg poacher, simply due to the fact that I would like to be able to make more than one at a time.  Or maybe I will just use a shallow, wide pan instead.  At any rate, I was researching methods and came across two tips that I employed.

  1. Add rice wine vinegar to the boiling water
  2. Use a mason jar ring to contain the egg while it is poaching (put the ring in the pot first, then pour egg on top)

Look at me, poaching eggs!

After successfully poaching 4 eggs and roasting more asparagus than I could ever imagine eating, I plated this dish, and added a teeny, tiny bit more of freshly ground pepper.

HOW FANCY!

Except as soon as I tried to cut mine up I realize I forgot to snap the ends off the asparagus!  Don’t forget to do this — it really sucks if you do.  Otherwise, it was fantastic.  Much like the commenters on the original recipe at L+D, I would have never put these flavors together, but am SO GLAD that I decided to try it out.  As mentioned, I served it with also-really-needed-to-be-used red potatoes, but I think you could get really creative with what to serve with this dish.  It can be breakfast-y or brunch/lunch, or dinner, as we enjoyed it.

OH – and did I mention that I finally got a new camera?  Look at all the (mostly ridiculous) crazy settings it has:

Fisheye – LOL

Miniature (for photographing quaint things?)

Toy camera (or hipstamatic rip-off)

BRIGHT colors!

Hope you enjoy!

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Hope you all had a great Independence day and three day weekend!  I was inspired by Smitten Kitchen and a log of fig goat cheese that I thought I would love, but kind of hated, to make this DELICIOUS cornbread for our holiday BBQ.  This recipe was awesome, not only because it was yummy and a huge crowd pleaser, but also because I didn’t have to go out and buy a single thing for it.  I had it all already in my kitchen.

Here is the link to the original recipe.  I basically followed it, except I added more corn and more goat cheese (had to get rid of it!).  I did use polenta, mostly because I already had it.  Oh I also didn’t soak the polenta in buttermilk overnight, but for about 2 hours.  Another tip – the goat cheese needs to sit out for quite awhile to soften up, well over an hour.  But I just whipped it in the kitchenaid and it turned out fine.

I did use a large, very deep (6 inches maybe?) cast iron skillet to bake it in.  Next time I will definitely just put it in two skillets, or a skillet and a dutch oven/ pyrex.  It took about an hour to cook, and the edges got totally burned because it was so tall.  So if you improvise and add more ingredients, just keep this in mind…. or use a really big rectangle pan/ dish, so it is more shallow.  Once I got over the burned edges, I realized this is probably the best cornbread I have ever had… which was a really cool thought because I made it!

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