So, I keep meaning to make a dessert for new recipe day, and then I keep eating too much junk/chips/cookies during the day to really justify making a dessert for my new recipe. Alas. On the plus side, this gave me another fun and exciting thing to do with leeks! I really love leeks, although I’m still working on finding new and exciting ways to cook them, especially in ways they aren’t overpowered by stronger flavors. So, since I had a leek, and I was searching for spring vegetables, I found this recipe, which I didn’t really adjust all that much.
1 leek, halved and sliced
1/2 bell pepper (any color, I used red), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 pinches dried thyme
wine wine (maybe 3 tablespoons)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup polenta
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
First step is making the polenta. Sauté the leek bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil. when they start to soften (5 minutes-ish) add thyme, salt, and pepper to taste, and a couple tablespoons of white wine (I never measure, just pour some direct from a bottle). Then saute until just shy of done. So, the original recipe said to stick the polenta on top of the veggies, but that really doesn’t work with the soft/fresh polenta. So, the best thing to do is stick the polenta in a small baking dish, with the veggies on top, then the goat cheese and bake at 400 just until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.
This turned out really well. My taste-related issue on my end was that I wish I had cooked the leeks for a little less time, but that’s about it. I had massive issues with the assembly, as I used too big of a baking dish, tried to spread soft polenta on top of the veggies, and then just sorta shoved the veggies to one side, the polenta on the other, sprinkled the whole thing with goat cheese, and baked it that way. But it tasted good. Song of the Week: Put on your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly! So for reasons I’m still not totally sure about, I started listening to this on repeat recently this week. But it’s a fun, cheerful, song and I do enjoy it so, why not?
Well, it finally happened, I accidentally repeated a recipe for new recipe day. I made what I thought was probably a new recipe a couple weekends ago, only to realize that I had in fact made it 3 years ago, in April 2013. Since then I feel into a deep food funk. The more I tried to come up with something interesting and impressive to make for my next new recipe, the more stuck and uninspired I felt. So, instead, tonight I went back to the basics and made something simple – Parmesan roasted cauliflower, which I found here.
1/2 head cauliflower
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 pinch dried thyme
A couple tablespoons olive oil
Chop the cauliflower into florets. Place on a baking tray with the garlic cloves (unpeeled) and toss both with the thyme, salt and pepper, and some olive oil. Roast in an oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so. The cauliflower should be on the edge of tender, but not quite done. Pull it out of the oven and toss with the cheese. Then put the dish back into the over to roast for another 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.
That’s it. Seriously an easy recipe but an extremely satisfying one. It makes a good side dish, and if you want to be super healthy, have that with a salad for dinner. I like having a cheese-cauliflower recipe that isn’t the rather heavy cauliflower au gratin. Song of the Week: Calling Dr. Love by Kiss – my new pump-up song. Totally listened to this walking to my last job interview, and I got the job! So it totally works as a pump-up/good luck/I totally rock so I got this song.
I ended up doing a ton of cooking over the weekend, many of which were of the “let’s play with food” variety. There were breakfast burritos, mashed potato/spinach fritters, baked fritter dough, a roasted eggplant tower and cupcakes. Like I said, there was a lot of cooking. However, I kept forgetting to take pictures of all of the things I made. So this blog post will be on the eggplant tower thingy because it is the only one I remembered to take a picture of.
1 medium eggplant, thinly sliced
2 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup tomato sauce
pine nuts for garnish.
Step one is to roast the eggplant. Slice it fairly thinly and brush with olive oil. When I say brush I literally mean take a pastry brush and use that to coat both sides of the eggplant with olive oil. Eggplant are little oil sponges, if you toss them like normal veggies it gets absorbed and you end up using a ton of oil. Sprinkle on a little salt and roast the eggplant at 400 until they are tender all the way through and shrunken, about 30 minutes you should probably flip them after 15 minutes so both sides are cooked properly). Once the eggplant is cooked, set it aside and let it cool.
Get two ramekins, and place about a tablespoon of sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of eggplant, and then some goat cheese crumbles. Then more eggplant and then more goat cheese – don’t worry about gaps, or the fact they aren’t perfect. I did about 4 layers. Once you placed the last eggplant layer, cover with another tablespoon or so of tomato sauce. Garnish with pine nuts and bake in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted and the sauce bubbling, about 20 minutes.
I was super proud of myself for how well this turned out. The melted cheese mixed somewhat with the sauce which tasted awesome, and nothing really overpowered anything else, and wasn’t swimming in sauce. It was just tasty. And only requires a few ingredients! Not really a weekday recipe, but a good one to impress someone your making dinner for without actually having to do a lot of work. I had this with a glass of white wine (a Chilean sauvignon blanc) and some roasted asparagus. Song of the Week: Shambala by Three Dog Night, as sung by Rockapella. I had a long discussion (with much viewing of YouTube videos) with a friend about the differences between newer pop-a capella, old school stuff, and more choral/classical a capella a couple days ago. He was not overly impressed by Pentatonix, but we both appreciate the more old school stuff, so I’m going with Rockapella today.
So one of my favorite simple dishes is a sort of half-way thing between bruschetta and a caprese salad. Basically, all the ingredients of a caprese salad, but chopped into little pieces and used to top bread. Well, I finally managed to find so decent (ie not tasteless) tomatoes at the grocery store the other day and was very excited to use them. Also, incredibly lazy and didn’t want to make anything too complicated this week for new recipe day (even I get lazy). So I decided to make my tomato salad, but toss it with pasta, thus making caprese pasta.
2 servings of penne pasta
10-12 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
Boil the pasta in salted water until done. While the pasta is cooking, chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Place the tomatoes in a bowl with the mozzarella and season with salt and dried basil to taste. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil – more than the tomatoes seem to need as it will coat the pasta as well. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and toss with the tomato/mozzarella mixture. add a little parmesan and serve warm.
I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Not that it was every going to be bad, but for something really simple it was really a nice dish. Barely any work and way prettier and tastier than just pasta with tomato sauce. You could also easily serve it cold as a pasta salad in the summer, but it was nice to have now before spring really starts. As you can see from the picture, I served this with a side of roasted asparagus, which went perfectly. Song of the Week: Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley. Hey, I’m allowed a cheesy guilty pleasure once in a while.
One of the stranger gaps I have in my cooking repertoire is that I’ve never actually made lasagna. Growing up it was a thing my mom or sister did, rather than me or my dad. A few years back, before I started this blog, I made a polenta lasagna, but that’s the closest I’ve gotten. Well, there is no time like the present to fill such a ridiculous gap, right? I found this recipe and it looked super tasty – and I only made a couple minor adjustments to it.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons parmesan
a couple tablespoons chopped parsley
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk together. Add the milk and whisk so the butter-flour mixture gets thoroughly incorporated into the milk. Stir continuously – this is important, as it prevents lumps or sticking at the bottom of the pan. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat. Add the parmesan and stir it in (the sauce will still be warm enough to melt the cheese). Then add in the parsley.
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1-2 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 bunch fresh kale
zest from 1/2 a lemon
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
salt and pepper
Rinse the kale and rip/chop into little pieces. Heat some oil in a frying pan and saute the garlic and shallot. Stick in a bowl. Then saute the kale – you are going to have to go in batches, but you only need to cook them till they wilt, about 5 minutes. Stick the cooked kale in the bowl with the garlic and shallot. Let the kale mixture cool a bit (this is a good time to boil the lasagna noodles or start the sauce). Once the kale is cool, add the lemon zest, cheeses and salt and pepper (to taste) and mix it all together.
Assembly: Lightly oil the bottom of an 8X8 pan and stick the first layer of noodles down (if you stick cheese sauce on the bottom it will burn a little while the lasagna cooks)then stick some sauce on the noodles, and then about half the kale-cheese mixture. Then more noodles, and the rest of the kale cheese mixture. Then the top layer of noodles and more sauce. You can add a bit more mozzarella on top if you want as well. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350. Serve warm.
So the main issue I has with this comes down to the fact that I used the no-boil lasagna noodles. This was a bad idea, as apparently you need to add extra sauce, which of course I didn’t really intend to do since white sauce is more caloric than tomato sauce. Also, sticking white sauce on the bottom on a pan can easily burn, which is a little annoying. There were no problem exactly, but the noodles were a little gummy, so you should probably boil the noodles. Song of the Week: Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen. A classic for a reason – such a perfect song, and a perfect collaboration.