I finally finished moving!! All my crap, including all my hundreds of books, have been unpacked and I’m starting to feel settled in my new place. As a housewarming present to myself (along with all the other new furniture and stuff I bought) I got a new cookbook – Plenty by Yotan Ottolenghi. I bought one of his cookbooks for my sister a couple years back, and the pictures are like food porn at its finest. The recipes looked good once I read them too. I didn’t want to make anything too complicated but I also wanted to do something definitely different. So I decided on Artichoke Gratin since the weather was totally gross out yet it was late spring.
1 bag frozen artichoke hearts
1 small crown broccoli, cut into florets
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1-2 pinches dried thyme
Zest and juice from 1 very large lemon
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
2-3 tablespoons parmesan
Squeeze the lemon juice into a pot of water, and par-boil the broccoli and artichokes in it. You don’t need to cook them totally, it’s still gonna bake, but do at least par-boil/make the artichokes not frozen. Drain and set aside. Sauté the onions in olive oil until soft and getting a bit golden. Add the broccoli, artichokes, parsley, lemon zest, thyme and salt and pepper to taste Once the veggies are ready, make the béchamel sauce.
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
In a saucepan, melt the butter, then quickly stir in the flour so a paste forms. Pour in the milk and stir, constantly and making sure to scrape the bottom so nothing settles there, until the sauce has thickened. Mix the bechamel with the veggie mixture and stick in an baking dish. Dot the dish with little spoonfuls of ricotta and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. Pull out the dish and sprinkle with the parmesan, then bake for another 10 minutes, or until the parmesan has become nice and golden. Serve warm.
I really loved this dish. It’s perfect for a stormy spring day, because it tastes like spring, and it’s all full of veggies, but it’s still a warming gratin. The lemon zest just makes the whole thing smell fresh in my opinion, especially when you eat it as leftovers. And there is a pretty good amount of cheese in there as well. I’d never cooked with frozen artichoke hearts, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to use fresh ones when they are crazy expensive on the east coast. I think they turned out perfectly good (and infinitely more cost effective). Song of the Week: Take a Bow by Rihanna. Now for the record, I don’t like Rihanna. Or 99% percent of her music (I will never forgive Umbrella). But this is actually a surprisingly good song and for whatever reason I listened to it a lot this week.
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?
First off, let me apologize for the extended absence. I had an unexpected trip to California which did not give me anytime to cook anything (tragic, given my parent’s giant and beautiful kitchen). But I’m back on the East Coast, and will hopefully have a slightly less adventurous life for the next couple weeks. This week’s recipe I found on a wonderful cooking/book blog called The Little Library Cafe. It’s sort of a quiche-salad hybrid, that the author made inspired by the story of Peter Rabbit and called Mr McGregor’s Tart. Well, it looked freaking delicious, and I needed to use up some goat cheese, so I decided this week to make my own variation of the concept. I used fairly different ingredients in the topping, so I’m calling it a Peter Rabbit tart. There are three parts to this one, so it will take a while to put together.
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
pinch of salt
Measure flour and salt into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter until there are no significant sized lumps. If compressed, the dough should almost be able to stick together. Add water, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. The dough should be soft and pliable, but cohesive and not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
1/2 cup milk
several pinches dried basil
3 oz crumbled goat cheese
Beat the eggs and milk together. Add the salt, pepper and dried basil and whisk them into the liquid mix. Then add the goat cheese and mix that in too. Take the dough you made earlier and roll it out to line whatever pan you are using. I used my large pie plate, but since the was a tart, the edges only when half-way up the sides of the pan. Pour the liquid egg/milk/cheese mixture into the lined pan – it shouldn’t quite fill it up. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400. Don’t worry if the crust isn’t quite brown yet, it will go back in the oven later.
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 small leek, halved and sliced
1 cup chopped cabbage (or other greens)
2 radishes, thinly sliced
While the base is baking, prepare the veggies to go on top. The veggies I chose were based on the very specific criteria of already being in my fridge at the time. So feel free to use whatever ones make you happy. After the veggies are all chopped and the tart base is out of the oven, sprinkle the sliced leeks and tomatoes on top, and stick it back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes or so. It won’t hurt the eggy base and will give the crust more time to cook and brown. Once its done, toss the remaining veggies on top of the tart. Serve either warm or cold, both work.
The result. Good! The leeks and tomatoes were awesome, so unless you hate either of those vegetables, I highly recommend using them. The radishes were a nice touch, although I’m a bit iffy on the cabbage. I would have preferred to go with spinach or spring mix lettuces, but I’m a firm believer in using what is in my fridge before it goes bad, so cabbage it was. Next time, I will use some other leafy green vegetable. My love affair with rose wines continues, although I had it with an Argentinian rose blend, which was less fruity than I normally go for. Song of the Week: A Book Report from the the musical You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. A completely ridiculous but amazing song from the Charlie Brown musical in which all the characters have to write a book report on … Peter Rabbit.
As you might have guessed from the name of this post, I’m a bit of a steampunk fan. Not a huge fan, but one of my all-time favorite books series is a urban fantasy/steampunk mishmosh of awesome. So when I was trying to come up with something for this week, I remembered that there is this food blog – Tentacle and Treacle – inspired by the series. Sadly Victorian food is not the most inspired cuisine, particularly for a vegetarian, but I saw the potato fritters post and it so naturally I had to try and make a version. I decided on attempting a savory version, rather than staying true to the recipe, as I wanted something more dinner-ish.
Savory Potato Fritters
1 large russet potato
1 medium spring onion (or a bunch of green onions)
1-2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Bake the large potato (or, if you have limited time, stick it in the microwave for a few minutes). Remove the skin and mash the potato in a large bowl – I find it easiest to just use a fork. Chop the onion (a spring onion is basically a massively oversized green onion), and add it to the potatoes. Add the all the other ingredients, saving the egg for last. If you are really motivated you can separate the egg, beat the egg white til soft peaks form, and fold it in but I’ve found it largely unnecessary. The batter should be fairly cohesive and not lumpy. Heat some oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil is hot, add plops of the batter and flatten them out a bit. Fry until both sides are golden brown, and remove onto a paper-towel-lined plate. Serve warm.
Tasty! A little on the bland side, as they can be slightly improved by adding cheese or ketchup on top. I am kicking myself a little because I was going to stick cheese in them and then I changed my mind – proof that initial impulses can in fact be good life decisions. But these are still extremely good, and weirdly tasted even better the next day. Not sure how that works. Song of the week: Highway to Hell, by AC/DC. I was listening this on my way to work the other day and it seemed eerily appropriate, like a musical Freudian slip… Also, it’s an awesome song and you should rock out to it regardless.
Sorry about the prolonged absence. Sometimes life gets away from me. It is spring again, and you know what that means … asparagus! Yes, this is another asparagus and lemon recipe, but it’s completely different from last year’s concoctions. This is actually a spring vegetable salad, inspired by a Green’s recipe and brought to fruition by half-forgotten 1am musings and a subsequent conversation with my dad. It is a spring potato salad, which quickly became ironic because the day I made it there was yet another snow storm out here. Before I get into the recipe, I want to make one thing very clear: mayonnaise is gross. Sticking it into a potato salad is just icky and if that is the kind of thing you enjoy or are looking for, then stop reading now because this is completely different.
Spring veggie salad
6 stalks of asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 medium yellow potatoes
1-2 handfuls of green beans, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 oz fontina cheese, grated
Zest from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chop the asparagus, toss with olive oil, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees until tender. Boil the potatoes until they are soft, and chop them into chunks. Wait until they have cooled a little bit, but they should still be warm. Take the green beans and parboil them, just for a few minutes. You can cook them all the way if you prefer, but I like green beans a bit more on the crunchy side.
While the vegetables are cooking, make the lemon vinaigrette. Put all the ingredients, except the oil into a small bowl and whisk together. Once those have been combined, add the olive oil, whisk, and set aside. Once all the vegetables have been cooked, stick them all in a bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Stick in the fridge to cool. Right before serving, grate the fontina cheese and add it to the salad.
This salad is so yummy! The lemon is an important touch, add cooling the salad really allows the flavors to blend and seep in. I had the salad with garlic bread, and a glass of red wine because that’s what I had open, but you should really have it with white wine. When in doubt, pair lemon/asparagus dishes with white wine. Also, this salad keeps really well. If anything, the potatoes taste even better the next day, so don’t be afraid to make a big recipe and save the leftover for lunches. Song of the week, not precisely a song per se, but the joys of #mcconnelling. This and this are two of my favs, but there are countless others, and they are all funny. Somehow, it never stops being funny.