Archive | August 2015

Pasta with Summer Vegetables

I rarely eat pasta. I’m not entirely sure why, other than when I crave basic carbs, I just eat bread with some cheese or butter, even if I have to make the bread myself. And when I do eat pasta, I usually make myself Mac and Cheese, or some variant of it, because it is one of life’s ultimate comfort foods (the other two are soup and ice cream). But, this week I decided to make an exception to that, and made pasta with summer vegetables.

Linguine (2 serving)
1 yellow squash, halved and then thinly sliced
1 cup or so cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
White wine
olive oil
handful of pine nuts, toasted
10 large basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
Parmesan

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, toss with olive oil, and roast them. Now, roasting tomatoes can be done in a variety of different ways, I roasted them at 275 in the oven for about an hour and a half. Once they have roasted, set aside. Boil the pasta. In the meantime, saute the garlic and the squash in some olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. When they are almost done, add some white wine (like 2 tablespoons? – I just pour some directly from the bottle, rather than measure) and finish cooking. Then add the cherry tomatoes, pasta, and basil. Mix the whole thing together and make sure it’s heated through. Serve in bowls, then sprinkle with the pine nuts and parmesan.

summer pastaThis was such a good recipe. Perfect for summer, and full of flavor, and not too complicated. Also, leave off the parmesan and its totally vegan. I’d love to say that I’d make this recipe again, but I doubt it, only because I never seem to make pasta! Ah well, maybe this will motivate me. Serve with white wine of course – whatever you cooked with. I used a torrontes, which is decent, but not my favorite varietal. Song of the Week: A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission) by Simon and Garfunkel. Way funkier than their normal stuff, but totally amazing and pretty much a string of references. It’s super 60s in the best possible way.

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Using Up Strawberries for Dessert

Ok, I admit it. Last week I was a slight dessert tease at work. I had planned to make some kind of strawberry dessert for me and my coworker on night shift last week – I even double checked that he wasn’t allergic to strawberries. But then I was too tired and didn’t follow through (he was mildly disappointed, but understanding). But I still had a ton of strawberries in my apartment when the weekend rolled around. So I decided to make little strawberry trifles, although I still made them just for myself.

strawberry trifle

Step 1: The Pastry Cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a heat-proof bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add in the egg yolks and mix thoroughly. In a small saucepan, heat the milk until little bubbles are forming around the edges. Remove from heat and slowly mix it with the egg-sugar-flour mixture in the bowl, stirring constantly. Once you’ve finished that, pour the all of it back into the saucepan. Reheat and stir constantly as it thickens. Once thick, let the cream boil for 10-15 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Cover and stick it in the fridge to cool for several hours-a couple days.

Step 2: The Sponge Cake
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup flour

Beat 1 egg (in theory you are supposed to beat it for 5 minutes or till it gets thick – I declare this to be absurd). Then mix in the sugar, then the water and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients. Pour into an 8X8 pan (greased and floured of course) and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes (or until its springy when you touch it). Let it cool.

Step 3: Assembly
Pastry Cream
Sponge Cake
1 lb fresh strawberries
chambord (or liqueur of your choice)

In a smallish glass bowl (I use these adorable ice cream bowls) stick a piece of the sponge cake. Pour maybe a tablespoon of chambord over it. Add a layer of pastry cream, then strawberries. Then more sponge cake/chambord, pastry cream, and strawberries. Stick it in the fridge, covered, for a bit to let the whole thing settle. Then enjoy!

This was really good, especially for a nice summer dessert. It’s a bit time consuming, particularly compared to opening a thing of ice cream, but worth doing every now and then. My only slight issue with it is that the pastry cream is a little to thick for this. I’m not sure how to make it less so for the future – less flour probably? Song of the Week: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony Number 5. I had a rough couple of days and no one does pathos quite like the Russians in my opinion.

Mexican “Pizza”

I will impulsively buy things at the grocery store, and deal with coming up with how to use them effectively much later. This week, the impulse buy was yellow squash – which I figured would be easy enough to use. I contemplated making Mexican tartlets, which I’ve made before, but then my brain began to play with the general idea. I came up with turning the tartlet concept into a sort of pizza-type thing, which I am calling Mexican pizza (although admittedly it is neither really Mexican nor pizza, ah well).

Masa Harina dough
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup masa harina
dash of salt
1/3 cup butter
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
Cold water

Measure flour, masa harina, and salt into a bowl and mix them all thoroughly. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter until there are no significant sized lumps. Mix the vinegar with 3 tablespoons of water and add the mixture, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. If you need more water, add it in small amounts. The dough should be soft and pliable, but cohesive and not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the filling

Topping
4 ounces crumbled queso fresca
salsa
1/2 onion, sliced and quartered
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 ear corn, kernels shaved off
One medium yellow squash, sliced
1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons cumin
Olive oil

Stick the onions, garlic, and corn in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the cumin and coat the veggies so they are all coated. Roll out the masa harina dough either into a large pizza, or two little ones. Spoon a layer of salsa over the dough, then add the squash slices. Spoon the corn-onion mixture over the squash, then add the crumbled cheese on top. Bake the pizza for 30 minutes at 375. Serve warm.

Mexican Pizza

Ok, I’ve made a lot of Mexican-fusion type recipes in my day, and all of them were good. But this was just incredibly delicious. It’s very much a summer recipe. I generally go with beer for Mexican food, a wheat beer or a Hefeweizen works best, although this recipe isn’t spicy. I’m sure if you want, you can add chopped cilantro to the pizza once you pull it out of the oven, or additional spices when you add the cumin to the onion-corn mixture. Song of the week: If I Needed Someone by the Beatles. Rubber Soul is the second-best Beatles album (Revolver is the best) and this is just such a good song. Lesser-known Beatles songs are still better than 80% of all music.

Honey-Goat Cheese Filo Turnovers

Even if you freeze it, eventually an open package of filo dough will dry out. It is a tragic truth I have learned to live with. However, the result of this is that I needed to finish off a package of filo dough that didn’t have too many sheets left over. And I hit on this recipe: Honey-Goat Cheese Filo Triangles. Also it looked delicious! I made a smaller recipe though, and made a couple minor adjustments, but it’s basically the same.

5-6 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg white
5 sheets filo dough
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon

Blend the goat cheese, egg white and 2 tablespoons of honey together with an electric beater. Stick in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Once you’ve done that, melt the butter and the remaining honey together. Brush over a sheet of filo dough and fold it into thirds. Add some of the goat cheese mixture to the bottom edge and then fold up the sheet like a flag. Brush the top with more butter-honey and prick the top to let steam out. Stick on a baking sheet. When you’ve used all the filling, bake at 375 until golden.

The might have exploded a little in the oven...

The might have exploded a little in the oven…

These were good! More savory than I expected, so its not really a dessert per se. One or two of these with a salad makes a nice meal. However this brings me to my issue with the recipe. While these make perfectly good big turnovers, I think they’d probably be way better as little appetizer sized ones, made with a half-sheet of filo. But I haven’t had a chance to test this theory yet. These aren’t super sweet, but they are sweet enough they don’t pair super well with dry wines – I’d suggest a reisling would probably work well – my favorite is the Chateau St. Michelle, which is usually around $10. Song of the week: For the Longest Time by Billy Joel, as sung on How I Met Your Mother. Cheesy? Yes. Awesome? Absolutely.