Monday, August 31, 2009

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca


Those astute readers with memories like a steel trap will remember that I already posted about Pasta Puttanesca on May 28, 2008. What?? You didn't remember?? That's okay, I only remembered because it's not often that I get to talk about whores on this blog. I am a teacher after all, and teachers (like cops and priests) are held up to higher standards than other mere mortals. And after the boobs post, I am probably treading on fine water (what is that saying?? Because I know that I have totally messed it up, but for the life of me, I can't think of how it should really go).

So, anyway, back to the pasta. I am reposting this with new pics and tips. I feel it's completely timely what with the glut of tomatoes that some of us are experiencing, and so sorry to those of you not experiencing said glut. What I love about this dish is there is no cooking, other than the pasta. But since some of the ingredients are a little strong...hello...garlic and anchovies, I have a certain order that I use when I compose this dish. When I put all of the sauce ingredients in the bowl, I make sure and put the anchovies and garlic on the top, that way when I dump the hot pasta on it, they get first dibs at the heat. I usually let it sit for a few minutes before I toss it, to let them cook a little, and you can tell because your kitchen starts smelling like garlic and anchovies, and I for one, find that a good thing!

Sauce ingredients


I'm not going to repost the recipe, you can just follow the link above. This post, linking back to a post (this may be cheating), will be my entry for this week's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by at it's lovely creator Ruth at Once Upon a Feast! Oh great, leave it to me to try and cheat when the big boss lady is hosting!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekend Wine Reviews #4

This crisp morning reminds me that pretty soon I'll be switching over to some red wine reviews. You know how some people chose their wine based on what they are eating? Well, I sometimes do, but for me it's mostly seasonal. Summer and spring means white, and fall and winter means red.

Happy Camper


Happy Camper, Chardonnay, 2007, California. $7.99. I will be the first to admit that I bought this wine solely on it's name alone. Give me a cute name or a cute label and into my wine basket you go. Unfortunately that methodology doesn't always equal success. This had a pleasant butterscotchy flavor and a full mouthfeel, however their was nothing special about it. Buy again - no.

Oak Grove

Oak Grove Chardonnay, California, 2007. $7.99. They say - Tropical fruit flavors, followed by a smooth, creamy finish. Notes of vanilla and toasty oak. We say - fruity front, smooth and ends buttery. Buy again - definitely!

Gnarly Head


Gharly Head Chardonnay, 2006. $10.99. They say - bright tropical flavors of pineapple and citrus followed by a zingy ginger accent and hints of toasted graham cracker and vanilla on a creamy finish. We say - creamy, citrusy, but mellow. Excellent!! Buy again - definitely!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #221

Smudge
Smudge wants to know if you grow grass inside for your cats?


This will be my entry for this week's Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Mr. Tigger and the M-Cats Club. Apparently I was confused last week and listed them for the wrong week. Me confused? Big surprise.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Spicy Chicken and Mint Salad



Do you go through phases of craving certain chefs? Their style, their food? I do. Right now, I am craving Donna Hay. The simple flavors and ingredients. Recipes that really let the herbs shine through.

Once again, she does not disappoint. I found her Spicy Chicken and Mint Salad in issue 41 of her magazine. And unlike most people, who are subbing chicken for meat, I'd like to be a little different and sub ground beef for chicken. That's what happens when you have half a cow in your freezer.

This was so light and fresh. I have completely fallen in love with what I call the holy trinity of Thai: fish sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Pour that over old tires and I'd probably pronounce them excellent. The only thing different that I did, besides substituting ground beef (which was woefully overcooked, but I spent too long on the couch sharing a glass of wine with hubby, whilst lamenting about my day), was to omit the red onions because I didn't have any. Also, I just used whatever kind of mint is it that I have growing.

Spicy Chicken and Mint Salad
Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
500g chicken mince
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 birdseye chillies, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Vietnamese mint leaves
1/4 cup spearmint leaves
1/4 cup round mint leaves

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat. Cook the chicken, in batches, for 3–5 minutes or until browned, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute. Stir through the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. To serve, toss through the cucumber, onion, Vietnamese mint, spearmint and round mint.

This will be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Rachel at The Crispy Cook.

Also, guess what?? It is the hubs and me (me and the hubs?) anniversary! Yep, 22 years of bliss. I had to stop and add that up, because I do not keep track of such things, it's sad to say, but I do not possess the romantic gene. Hallmark hates me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zuni Cafe Pickles

Zuni Cafe Pickles


I have an endearing habit of labeling things. (Or at least, I think it's endearing, you may find it annoying, in which case, I would label you no-fun-at-all). One of the things I like to label is seasons. It was the spring of my...., it was the summer of my.... It works well, except for that disastrous, "the summer of cleaning out my garage", which did not (and probably, will not) come to pass.

This summer must be labeled, "the summer of pickles". I have completely rediscovered and fallen in love with pickling things. It's the perfect antidote to the bags of summer produce picked up from my CSA. Slice the veggies, make a pickling solution, put both in a jar, and it keeps for months in your fridge. Perfect. And did you know, that you can reuse pickling solution? I reused a jar about 4 times, until the cucumber slices stopped tasting pickle-y and started just tasting like cucumbers.

Squash


My latest discovery is the Zuni Cafe Pickles, which I found online here. I didn't have any zucchini, so I substituted yellow squash. These were wonderful. They are bright, sunny yellow, with a flavor reminiscent of sweet gherkins. Sweet gherkins, only better, minus that weird chemical flavor that store bought gherkins can sometimes have. There are 2 jars sitting in my fridge, and I plan on always having a jar of these in my fridge!

Zuni Cafe Pickles
Adapted from
The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant


1 pound zucchini (I used yellow squash)
1 small yellow onion (I omitted)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed yellow and/or brown mustard seeds
Scant 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Wash and trim the zucchini, then slice them one-sixteenth-inch thick; a mandoline works best. Slice the onion very thin as well. Combine the zucchini and onions in a large but shallow nonreactive bowl, add the salt and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt. Alternatively, transfer the salted zucchini and onion slices to a Japanese pickle maker and screw down the top; do not add any water or ice cubes.

After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini -- it should be slightly softened. Drain and pat dry.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds and turmeric in a small saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside until just warm to the touch. (If the brine is too hot, it will cook the vegetables and make the pickles soft instead of crisp.)

Return the zucchini to a dry bowl and pour over the cooled brine. Stir to distribute the spices. Transfer the pickle to jars, preferably ones that have "shoulders" to hold the zucchini and onions beneath the surface of the brine. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least a day before serving to allow the flavors to mellow and permeate the zucchini, turning them a brilliant chartreuse color.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm Here to Please

You know, I'm pretty happy with my little piece of blogland that I occupy. I work pretty hard at it...braving the elements for my gardening pictures, slaving over a hot stove and grill for my foodie fans, making my cats hold still for their weekly photo op, drinking the wine, reading the books. But I do it cheerfully for you, my peeps, my followers, my lurkers.

And while, I don't dare compete with the master bloggers, I'm pleased with my average of 20 or so comments. I know you, with your 60 or 80, or gulp, hundreds of comments per post are shaking your head sadly at little-ole-me. But seriously, I love my average of 20 comments, it's like the porridge and Goldilocks, it's just right.

So, what am I to think of a recent post that earned almost twice my average number of comments?? What did I have to do to almost double my comments, you're wondering. Simple. Drop hair gel on my boob. Is that what it takes people? Cause if you want more stuff spilled on my boobs. That I can do. I'm here to please.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Garden Tuesday - Telephoto Lens Please

So far away
Okay, who wants to chip and buy me a telephoto lens? Any takers?

Help me please
Because this is what I was trying to take a picture of. Donations welcome.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tomato and Basil Orzo with Ricotta

Tomato Basil Orzo


There is one indulgence that I gladly allow myself. I subscribe to Donna Hay magazine. It costs me a small fortune to get it delivered here in the United States, but after missing months and months of issues because my local bookstore only gets eight copies, and you have to be there within a few days of them being delivered. And the bookstore doesn't even know ahead of time when they are going to be delivered. And it's not the bookstore close to me, it's the one across town. Okay, have I pleaded my case long enough?? And I don't care, because I love and adore Donna Hay's magazine. It makes me happy just seeing it waiting for me in my mailbox. I make sure to set aside uninterrupted time to sit on my back porch, maybe with a cup of tea, and savor every glorious picture and recipe in it.

Tomato Basil Orzo


The only thing that I have to get used to are the seasons. She is showcasing light, fresh, springy goodness, right in the middle of our winter. In the hot, dog days of our summer, her magazine is loaded with warm stews and heavenly braises. No problem, I just go to my shelf and pull out an appropriate month. Like this recipe for example. Basil and tomatoes, two words that spell summer to all. For this I pulled out issue #41, Oct/Nov 2008.

This was completely delightful. It's sort of like a risotto, only with less work. The fresh basil and tomatoes sing together and the ricotta adds a creamy mildness to it all. The only thing I changed was after the 15 minutes of cooking, mine was still a little too soupy, so I brought it up to high for about 5 minutes and let a little of the liquid boil off. Also I had some leftover chicken (from Spatchcocking - hee, hee), so I added that. It was a perfect one pot meal.

Tomato and Basil Orzo with Ricotta
Serves 4

3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound cherry tomatoes
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups orzo
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh ricotta
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
finely grated parmesan for serving

Heat the butter in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the tomatoes soften. Add the orzo and the stock and cook for 15 minutes (see note above). Stir through the basil, ricotta, and salt and pepper. Top with the parmesan and serve.

This will be my entry for this week's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti


It's time for another book review by Pam. Those of you offended by untalented writers attempting to write a book review, may leave now.

Anyone still here? If this was Romper Room, I'd look through my magic mirror and see who is still with me. Wait..maybe my monitor is magical..I see Marjie, and Joy, and Kat, and.... How'd I do?

Anywhoo, enough with that silliness and on to my book review. I just finished listening to I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci.

I really enjoyed this book. It is part New York City single girl memoir and part foodie memoir all rolled up into one. She tells the tales of all of her ex-boyfriends, the meeting, the dating, and the feeding of said boyfriends. Because that is what she does, she feeds her boyfriends, she cooks for them.

I have to say the mom in me wanted to sit her down and have a good old-fashioned talk with her. I know that we are in enlightened times, but really you don't always have to be the one inviting them up to your apartment, kissing them first, trying to seduce them...basically doing all the work. Let them do the work, let them try and figure out how to win you.

But aside from all the chasing and dating, there is the cooking. Since I listened to this book, I don't have any of the recipes in front of me. But they all sounded wonderful, simple, and delicious. Lots of pasta and lots of simple, real cooking. Cooking from the pantry when you get home late and you're starving.

Like I said, I really enjoyed this, 4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #220

Smudge


Smudge patrolling the yard. Do your cats do this? Our cats like to walk the edge of the flower beds, it's like their own little pathway.

This will be my entry for this week's Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Mr. Tigger and the M-Cats Club.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bye-Bye Summer Herbed Chicken Skewers

Skewers


Once school starts back, I am officially in fall mood. It doesn't matter if it is 90 degrees outside, I am ready for plaid and corduroy. Fall looming outside my door, also means that it's time to hit the herbs for their final hurrah, except for rosemary and thyme which keep me company all winter. So, I'm using my herbs every chance I get.

Ready to meet the grill


What says goodbye to summer more than food on a stick? Nothing!! My final days of summer formula is to marinate some food in your about-to-say-goodbye herbs, put it on a stick, and grill it. Pretend you don't have to go to school (or work) the next day.

Pam's Bye-Bye Summer Herbed Chicken Skewers
Serves 4

1 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 cup mint, finely chopped
1/2 extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (I have no idea how much I had, 2 pounds just sounds right to me), cut into 1 inch cubes
Fresh vegetables of your choice, enough for 4 people, cut into skewer size pieces (about the same size as your chicken) - I used yellow bell peppers and onions

Whisk the marinade together in a small bowl. Pour into a ziplock bag with the chicken and the veggies of your choice. Marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours or on the counter for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to high. Thread chicken and veggies on skewers. Grill for a total of 10 minutes, turning every few minutes or until chicken is cooked through.


This will be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Kitty at The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sage-Crusted Trout

Sage Crusted Trout


Move over Sauteed Trout with Bacon, another trout recipe is sharing your spotlight. The key word there is sharing. Both of these recipes are good...hello...bacon..of course it's good. But if you really can't be bothered with the bacon and the frying of the trout, then, I've got something even easier for you.

Sage Crusted Trout


Seriously, Sage-Crusted Trout from Martha, easy peasy, and completely delicious. Trout is one of my favorite fish and this recipe just lets the trout flavor shine through.

Sage-Crusted Trout
Serves 4

4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more at room temperature for baking sheet
8 small trout fillets, with skin (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
Lemon wedges, for serving

Heat the broiler. Generously butter a baking sheet. Arrange the trout fillets, skin side down, on the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, sage, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Using a pastry brush, coat each fillet with seasoned butter, and then sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.

Broil fillets as close to the heat as possible, turning the baking sheet as needed for even cooking, until the fish is golden brown on top, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Will Anyone Notice?

Okay, I was just getting ready to walk out the house to go shopping. Literally, ready to walk out the door, when for the zillionth time, I ran my hands through my bangs to get them out of my face. You know...the gesture familiar to anyone who has ever tried to grow out their bangs. By the end of the day, my bangs are a greasy mess from my hands being run through them over and over and over again. So, I decide a quick trip up to the bathroom for a light spritz of hair spray to hold the offending hair in place is called for.

I run up, grab and spritz. Only there is no spritz, it's a glob. A big glob that falls on the only protruding part of my body (and really it doesn't protrude quite as perkily as it used to, but it still managed to be in the way). WTF? I look at my hairspray, it's spray gel! I try and wash the offending glob off. Do you think anyone will notice?

I don't see anything wrong


P.S. and yes, I know, that color is completely wrong for me, darn you Target and your $5.99 t-shirts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Leftover Chicken Pasta

Pam's Leftover Chicken Pasta


This week, wanting to make sure that I had enough chicken to make Ina's chicken salad and still have some for other leftovers, I spatchcocked two chickens! (You didn't think I would let a week go by without mentioning my beloved spatchcock, did you?)

Spatchcocked Chickens


So, I had plenty of chicken for Ina and a pasta dish for the week. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with the pasta, so I went with familiar Mediterranean flavors - fresh tomatoes, Greek olives, and basil. I could have included some cheese in there, but lately I've been enjoying my pasta without the cheese...I know...I am as shocked as you are!

There really isn't a recipe for this, I started with the usual sauteing of onions and garlic in a pan, deglazing with some white wine (which by the way if I was that girl from Next Food Network star, I would claim to have invented that whole process), added the tomatoes, simmered until thickened, and then added the chicken, olives and basil and cook until heated through. But for those of you that want more info, I've written it down below, but the amount of the ingredients was based solely on the amounts I had on hand, so feel free to modify in any way.

Pam's Leftover Chicken Pasta
Serves 4

3/4 lb pappardelle
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine (this is why I keep a box in the fridge)
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup diced Greek olives
1/2 cup finely minced basil
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta per directions in a pot of boiling salted water.

While pasta water is heating up, heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet (large enough to hold pasta plus sauce) over medium high heat. Add onions and saute until softened about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant about 1 minute. Add white wine and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes, at a medium to low heat. Add cooked chicken, olives, and basil and cook until heated through.

Meanwhile, drain the pasta, reserving a 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the sauce. If it's too dry for you (I like mine dry-ish) add a little of the pasta water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This will be my entry for this week's Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Katie at One Little Corner of the World.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sewing - McCall's 5431

Skirt


When I went upstairs to retrieve the sewing pattern envelope for this review, I had to laugh. There on the front were the words "quick & easy". Apparently my two favorite cooking/recipe words are also my favorite sewing words!

More Skirt


Now, I didn't find this particularly quick or easy, but alot of that was operator error so please don't let me discourage you from trying it, because I think it comes out pretty darn cute looking.

It's all about quick and easy


And as far as my issues, let's just say that I had to go back to the fabric store twice for more fabric! I'm not going to get into all the mistakes I made, but seriously this skirt was cursed. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. To give you an idea, while serging the seam allowances, I broke a looper thread! I've never ever broken a looper thread, much less while just finishing off a seam allowance. So, I had to rethread my serger, which meant I had to find the instruction book, and waste about 30 minutes!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #219

Patchouli
"A little drowsing cat is an image of perfect beatitude." - Jules Champfleury

Patchouli demonstrating perfect beatitude is my entry for this week's Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Breadchick and LB at The Sourdough.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jalapeno Mint Jelly

Jalapeno Mint Jelly


Isn't there something so wonderful about a pantry lined with jars of food that you canned yourself? I know it's time consuming, but it is so rewarding to hear that lovely ping sound as each jar seals. Plus I get to use my cute enameled pot that I use for canning.

Cute Pot


Since my mint is flourishing, and really, is there any time mint is not flourishing, I decided to make some jalapeno mint jelly. This stuff is wonderful brushed on chicken or lamb, and spooned on some crackers with some cheese, it's an instant appetizer.

This recipe came from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round my favorite canning book because it has recipes that are the size I can manage. No 20 pounds of anything for me, please. Now, I am only posting the recipe here, to get complete safety and canning instructions, there are plenty of websites, or better yet, get this book and then you have canning instructions and over 300 recipes!!

Jalapeno Mint Jelly
Makes 4 cups

1 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint, divided
1 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 pouch liquid fruit pectin

Bring 1 1/2 cups mint and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes to steep. Strain through a lined sieve pressing with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible; discard mint.

Combine mint liquid, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice and peppers in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat and boil hard fro 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in pectin and remaining mint.

Ladle into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. (There's more to processing than this, so please read complete canning instructions!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tyler Florence - Carpaccio of Raw Zucchini

Zucchini


Did anyone drop off some zucchini for you on National Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor's Porch Day? Well, if they did, I've got just the thing for you! I've always thought that I was not a big zucchini fan. It turns out that I'm just not a big cooked zucchini fan. Raw, it's a whole different ball game.

Zucchini


I found this recipe for Carpaccio of Raw Zucchini at the Food Network. It was wonderful, the raw zucchini is very mild, almost nutty in flavor. When I was trying to find the link this morning, I stumbled upon a different version, Zucchini Carpaccio which instead of ricotta calls for Parmesan cheese. I think I'll try that one next time, because the Parmesan would add a little more zing to the dish since the zucchini and the ricotta are both somewhat bland, mild flavors.

Carpaccio of Raw Zucchini
Serves 4

2 zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds total), sliced into paper-thin rounds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 young leek, white and light green parts only, sliced paper-thin into rings and thoroughly cleaned
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as chervil, dill, chives, and chive blossoms
1 cup ricotta cheese
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish, optional

Shingle the zucchini slices in a single overlapping layer on a platter. Dust with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a 3-count of olive oil and the lemon juice. Put that into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to give the flavors a chance to get into the zucchini. Now scatter the leeks over. Sprinkle with the herbs. Garnish garnish with the ricotta cheese and mint leaves, if using; serve.


This will be my entry for this week's Tyler Florence Fridays!

Also, as someone who is spellingly-challenged, I have to say that this was an extremely difficult post. You try spelling carpaccio and zucchini a million times!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ina's Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Chicken Salad


Okay, you all know that I spatchcock a chicken every week. You all know that because I love reminding you every chance I get. And like I said before, cooked chicken in fridge = gold. Well, I need to change that. What is better than gold? Platinum? I don't know, but I loved this recipe so much, that this week, I'm spatchcocking two chickens. Really, that's a no-brainer, isn't it, double the chicken, with practically no extra effort. Because I think I may need to take this salad to work every day this week. I think I have to. It's the law, right up there with azaleas and crepe myrtles.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches
From
Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over Again
Serves 4 to 5

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (or cooked chicken in fridge)
good olive oil, salt and pepper
3/4 cup good mayo
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
1 cup small-diced celery (2 stalks)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the chicken skin side up on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with the salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and then set aside to cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove and discard the skin and bones and cut the chicken into a 3/4 inch dice. Combine the chicken, mayo, tarragon, celery, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Mix well.

Serve on bread (or pitas) with more mayo spread on the bread and lettuce.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fusilli with Eggplant, Pine Nuts, Currants and Capers

Eggplant Pasta


I am about to type words that I never thought would issue from this keyboard. I found an eggplant recipe that I like! Actually I can go further than that, I loved this recipe! Seriously, me and eggplant, who knew?

I found this pasta dish is my go-to weeknight cookbook, The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh. I know that I have raved on and on about this cookbook, so I'll spare you the gushing this time, but still, it's amazing..oops sorry, sort of gushing. Anyway, this all comes together so beautifully. The eggplant marries with the tomatoes and then there is the sweet stickiness from the currants and the satisfying crunch of the pine nuts. I made the recipe as directed, except that I didn't have any fusilli, I had some fancy shell pasta from a recent Marshall's excursion. You can find the recipe online at Epicurious and I've shared it down below for you.

Fusilli with Eggplant, Pine Nuts, Currants, and Capers
Serves 6

2 16-ounce eggplants, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup drained capers
2 14 1/4-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
1 pound fusilli pasta
1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Place eggplant slices on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand over 20 minutes. Turn eggplant slices over. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand 20 minutes longer. Rinse eggplant. Drain; pat fry with paper towels. Cut eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add eggplant; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in pine nuts, currants, and capers; sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juices; bring to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but firm enough to bite. Drain. Return pasta to pot. Add eggplant mixture, 1/4 cup cheese, and basil. Toss to combine. Transfer to large bowl. Serve, passing remaining cheese separately.


This will be my entry for Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Psychgrad at Equal Opportunity Kitchen.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Weekend Wine Reviews #3

It's time once again for another installment of cheap wine reviews. You all kind of seem to like my reviews, so I guess I'll just have to keep on drinking the wine. Hey, it's a tough job, but you know what they say about tough jobs.

Muirwood
Muirwood Chardonnay 2008, Arroyo Seco California. $9.99. Fruity and buttery. Excellent! Buy again: definitely.

Avondale
Avondale Chardonnay 2006, South Africa. $11.00 They say: Big on the palate, crisp almost Sauvignon Blanc-like characteristics. We say - yes, it doesn't really taste like a chardonnay, but it doesn't really taste like a Sauvignon Blanc either. It's pleasant, but nothing special. Buy again: probably not.

Anakena
Anakena Chile Suvignon Blanc, 2008. $7.99. They say: a crisp pale gold Sauvignon Blanc with fresh gooseberry and wild blossom aromas. Bursting with ripe fruit and freshness it has a lively style with a delightful finish. We say: smooth and light. The aroma promises a full flavor that the wine does not deliver. However it's a very pleasant, light, summer wine. Buy again: probably at this price!

Bodega Septima
Bodega Septima, 2007 Chardonnay, Argentina. $8.80. They say: a fresh and fruity wine with complex aromas of green apples and notes of pineapple and banana. We say: citrusy, Sauvignon Blanc-ish, buttery finish. Buy again: Yes!

There you have it! Let me know if you try any of these and if you like them or not! Feel free to disagree with me, to each his own and all that!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #218

Smudge
Smudge feels sorry for all those kitty cats that don't have a screened in porch.

Smudge
With a wicker couch to lay on.

Smudge
And a lazily spinning ceiling fan.

Smudge being compassionate is my entry for this week's Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Sir Tristan Tabbycat Longtail.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fish Roasted on Fennel Fronds

Roasted Fish


Did you know that there are two types of fennel? Well, there are! There is the bulb kind that you eat as a vegetable, and then there is the herb kind that get really tall and you use the fronds, flowers, seeds, and pollen from. When I bought my fennel, I planted it in my herb bed, which was a good thing, since it was the herby fennel. I don't really use it much, just admire it's lacy fronds, and that's about all. But I've seen or heard about roasting fish on it or wrapped in it and I've always wanted to give that a try.

I had some mystery fish that my son-in-law had caught. When I pulled them out of the freezer, I realized that they hadn't been cleaned. If anyone follows me on Twitter, I tweeted one day about fish scales everywhere. These were the culprits. Cleaning fish is messy. Hours later, fish scales were still falling from my hair like snowflakes.

Look who learned how to do a photo collage!


So, anyway, stop the complaining and back to the fish. I used a simple marinade and then just roasted them on the fennel fronds spread out on a cookie sheet. It was lovely. Really. The fennel just sort of perfumed the fish. And I felt very chef-ish while I was doing it, which is always a plus!

Fish Roasted on Fennel Fronds
Serves 4

4 fish, preferably cleaned by someone other than yourself
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
fennel fronds
olive oil

Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and fresh thyme in a shallow dish large enough to old the fish and whisk together. Add the fish and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 500. Place fennel fronds on baking sheet and spread out in a thin layer. Sprinkle with a little water and a little olive oil. Place fish on top. Roast fish in the middle rack of your oven for about 10 minutes per inch (mine took about 20 minutes) or until cooked through.

This will be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Dhanggit at Dhanggit's Kitchen.