Thirty Minute Thursdays:Fusilli with Sausage and Zucchini~

14 05 2011

This week finds us with zucchini in the fridge, and some polish sausage that was nice and spicy!  What a great combination!  I used Giuliano Hazan’s basic recipe, but cooked things out of order because the sausage was already fully cooked.  I still used fresh tomatoes for the sauce though.  Everything came together very quickly…the zucchini cooked in the pan with the other veggies and was nice and tender by the time the pasta was ready.  Still in under 3o minutes…gotta love it!  Meat, veggies and pasta, all in one dish.  Wonderful for a working woman who sometimes has to put dinner on the table late in the evening!

Tasting Notes~
This is another keeper…especially when we have zucchini and tomatoes going bonkers in the garden.  I’m sure that will happen sometime…when Mother Nature remembers what season it actually is!  The sauce took on a lot of spiciness from the sausage…kind of like an Arrabiatta sauce.  Yumm!

Look Who’s Cooking~
I’m excited to welcome Andrea from Family & Food & Other Things!  Andrea’s first post is of Pasta e Bisi, or Pea Soup with Pasta.  What a great soup!!  Kayte is quiet this week…I imagine things are really beginning to bustle in the house of Grandma’s Kitchen TableKayte has a college-bound senior getting ready to graduate from high school, with all that means.  She has every reason to be very proud of her son, and I hope she savors every moment as he closes his “High School Years”.  Cooking will wait!  Way to go Matt!!


Cinco de Mayo and Appreciating Teachers…

8 05 2011

Some holidays are so convenient!  The first week of May is often that way…as it was this year.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Mexican food and make and consume it regularly…so Cinco de Mayo is not merely an excuse to indulge, but it’s also a time when a lot of extra goodies become available for a limited time.  This week was full of Carne Asada tacos, cheese enchiladas for the teachers, and a Pastel de Tres Leches…that’s right…Cake of three milks.

Awhile back I mentioned that I was testing granulated chilies for Marx Foods…This was a great week to use chilies!  I picked up a package of round steak cut for carne asada, and created a marinade with my own two hands.  I expected it to be tasty, but…oh wow!!

Chipotle Carne Asada Marinade

Juice of 1/2 to 1 orange
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 Tablespoon Marx Granulated Dried Chipotle Chilies

Combine the ingredients in a large zip-locking plastic bag, and add up to 2 pounds of beef (I used round steak) slice for carne asada.  Marinate at least 3 hours, but 48 hours is the best minimum for round steak.
At cooking time, wipe most of the marinade from the meat before throwing the meat on a hot grill or comal.  Cook until well seared on each side, slice across the grain at a slight diagonal slant into thin strips.  Serve with pico de gallo at the table with hot tortillas of your choice.  I prefer the small taquito size…but anything up to 5 inches or so is a nice hand size.

I found that although I was marinating 2 pounds of meat, we used about 2-3 slices of meat for dinner for two people.   Dressed with lettuce and cilantro, draped in pico de gallo, you have most of a meal in hand…Antojitos.  Little bites.  Meals for the “on-the-go”…Mexican fast-food.  We didn’t “invent” fast food at all!

On Cinco de Mayo, I made the above Carne Asada for our tacos…it made for a quick, complete supper for us so I could get back to the kitchen and start work on the Teachers’ Appreciation Luncheon for the next day.  I had volunteered to make cheese enchiladas and a Pastel de Tres Leches, better known as a Tres Leches Cake…or as my dear friend Alton Brown calls it…Tres Leche Cake.  Since I used his recipe…should I correct his titling…absolutely.  We mustn’t promulgate mistakes.

This quiet, unassuming little cake begins as a simple butter cake.  No big deal.  Click on the link, and follow ALL the instructions.  Especially the part about waiting overnight.  Especially that part.  And I do know how hard it is to wait.  Really I do.  By the time I got my cake out of the oven it was easily 10 p.m. and I was ready…ever so ready…to go to bed.  I cooled my cake far less than suggested, maybe a total of 30 minutes…the 15 minutes I could force myself to sit still and the few minutes it took to mix the ingredients for the glaze…I did make one teeny tiny change, quite by mistake.  I didn’t see that the recipe called for 1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, and only put 1 teaspoon in the cake batter.  I “fixed” this by adding the missing 1/2 teaspoon to the glaze.  I seriously doubt that made for any drastic change in the outcome.  Since I knew my cake was going to have to wait after being frosted, I didn’t push frosting it before it chilled.  I was leery of frosting it while it was still really warm.  I wasn’t worrying about the glaze, but the frosting…yes!

Let me tell you…this whipped cream frosting mixes up in one big hurry!  I ran out to the extra fridge to get the cake and the frosting was ready when I got back…and I didn’t fool around!  Since I’d made the cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan, there was more than enough frosting.  There was even enough to drop a dollop onto “good morning!” coffee!

A friend described the taste as… “Like when you let your ice cream melt into your cake,” and that about says it.  Incredibly moist without being soggy.  I think I stumbled on the trick to this…whip the butter until very light…whip it more with the eggs and sugar.  When you add the flour mixture, use the lowest setting that will mix the flour into the creamy mixture.  Stop just before the last addition of flour is totally incorporated in the batter.  You can finish the mixing by hand as you move the batter to the prepared pan.  After baking, I used a broken piece of bucatini pasta to poke the holes in the pasta…it worked great!  I used every drop of the liquid and rotated my pan around so the glaze got to every side of the cake.  As hard as it was…I didn’t taste this until it was serving time for the luncheon.  By that time, all the ingredients had had time to become one…oh and what a wonderful oneness!

It’s kind of nice to get almost empty pans back… *Ü*

Bake! Baking Powder Biscuits~

8 05 2011

The second recipe I made from Nick Maglieri’s cookbook, Bake!, was the Buttermilk variation of his Baking Powder Biscuits.  The dough intimidated me right away…it was MUCH more moist than I anticipated.  I decided maybe my flour was more moist than his had been, and added some to at least be able to manage the dough.  It was still very, very moist, but more manageable than batter-like.  I made sure I floured my biscuit cutter well between each cut, and re-rolled my scraps very carefully so they didn’t get tough.

The biscuits bake quickly at a high temp, as most biscuits do.  In just a few minutes we had lovely golden-brown morsels…

Tasting Notes~
Best darn biscuits I can ever remember making.  We usually have one or two biscuits left over…not with these.  Somehow, we managed to eat them all…one way or another!  I had made them for biscuits & gravy with scrambled eggs and ham…they also went very nicely with honey, and homemade jam too.  They even got Jasmine’s 4-paw approval.  I tell you…some times those eyes just won’t leave you alone!

So far, everything I’ve made, albeit only two, actually, by the time I got this post done, I’m up to three…, recipes I’ve made from Bake!, is a winner!

Thirty Minute Thursdays: Double Post~

8 05 2011

It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  For some reason, Spring is just that way in my life.  Last year I know I was cooking for something, someplace about this time…  This year is no different.  Last week was a FREE spaghetti dinner put on by our PTO for the school kids and parents.  Not many people are familiar with cooking for a crowd.  It was a great learning experience!  This week has been Teacher Appreciation Week, which culminated in a Mexican luncheon today.  I’ve done a LOT of cooking lately.  Not much of it was what was on my “wish” list though!

Last week I fixed Pasta Primavera from Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta, and I added shrimp.  I know…not wholly authentic.  My bad.   *giggle*  It sure did taste good for being bad!  The base recipe was perfectly simple…  I confess.  I blanched my broccoli and carrots in the water before I cooked the pasta.  Everything cooked just right for me.

I have to admit that I love this because of its simplicity and covering all bases for me at one time.  The shrimp were flash poached and then just tossed with the sauce when the vegetables are added to the primavera sauce.

One of these years I’ll get the hang of the” Giada Twirl”…  Have you ever paid attention to how she twirls her pasta strands in such a pretty little swirl?  Pay attention some time…it’s really a lovely presentation!

Look Who’s Cookin’~
Bless Kayte
from Grandma’s Kitchen Table!  Kayte has been managing to keep up with TMT, even with Senior activities and swimming!  Not to mention the fact that she does work on the side too!  Kayte has been souping it up…Last week she created Zuppa di Pasta e Broccoli…a clear broth with pasta and broccoli.  It looks like a great into to a more complicated dinner, or a really nice, light lunch soup.   Kayte gives an excellent notation on the differences in pastas and how they absorb liquids differently.    This week, Soup Queen Kayte prepared Minestra per i Bambini, or Children’s Soup.   Kayte notes this is a good pantry cleaner…good for using up odd bits of pasta…“Not necessarily a recipe this week to wow all your guests, but a nice homey recipe that rose to the occasion of a quick lunch on a cold and overcast day like today.”   Sounds like it would be good today, here!

If you’d like to cook with Kayte and me, just send me an email, the link is in the sidebar on the right…  I’d love to include you in our weekly round-up on Thursdays.  I promise to try to get my life BACK under control soon!  LOL!