The Roaming Foodie

Posts Tagged ‘cooking

This is my new buddy

This is my Scottish Terrier, Maddy. She’s 5 years old. I got her at a rescue in North Carolina, and she is the best dog ever. I’m a little obsessed with her.

Anyway, Maddy is also a little bit of a foodie. Her kibble is venison and sweet potato, she won’t eat dog biscuits unless they’re mainly meat, and she gets homemade food. She’s into the bacon food trend, even though she only gets it every once and a while (though she’d love to have it more). She’s definitely a little spoiled.

I’ve been making Maddy’s food, because that’s what her foster mom had been doing, and because Maddy turns her nose up at canned food. I actually don’t mind, because then I know what’s in her food and know there’s no weird fillers or anything. Sometimes I put more effort into her food on a weekday than my own, haha. She regularly gets beef stew or chicken soup. Until I found the Three Dog Bakery cookbook (yes, I’m buying cookbooks for my dog).

Here’s the first recipe I tried. I can’t give much feedback, as I didn’t eat it. But Maddy cleans her bowl every time she has it, so I guess that’s review enough.

Lazy Day Loaf
Adapted from “The Three Dog Bakery” cookbook, and Maddy approved

One pound ground turkey
One cup plain bread crumbs
One egg
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
4 oz lowfat cheddar cheese, cubed

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix ground turkey, bread crumbs, and egg together. Place half of the turkey mixture in a greased loaf pan (or form it on a cookie sheet like I did, since I didn’t have a loaf pan). Layer the spinach on top, and then the cheese. Add the rest of the turkey on top. Cook for one hour to an hour and a half (the recipe said one and a half, but mine was done after an hour).

Makes 8 servings depending on the size of your dog (I’ve been getting four or five servings out of one loaf for Maddy, and she’s about 25 pounds).

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First, let me just get this out of the way. Gnocchi is such a fun word to say. Just say it a few times. Do you need another reason to make gnocchi other than just to have a reason to repeatedly say gnocchi?

If you do need another reason, then the fact that ricotta gnocchi is quick, easy, and delicious should cover it.

I first saw ricotta gnocchi being made by Anne Burrell one of those days I was visiting home and was getting my fill of the Food Network/Cooking Channel. I don’t get those channels at school, so I watch them as much as I can when I’m home. But I digress. Anne made ricotta spinach gnocchi with a quick tomato sauce. It looked wonderful, and easier to make than potato gnocchi, and tastier than potato gnocchi, since I’m not a huge fan of potatoes.  This was a few months ago when I saw her make these, and I never got around to making them, even though the thought was always at the back of my mind.

Last night, I was in a mood to cook.  I have  a brand new chef’s knife (a Wusthof, and it’s freaking awesome) and so I’m looking for excuses to chop things.  This was the night I decided to try my hand at ricotta gnocchi. Most of the recipes I looked at either took some time to make, or you had to wait for the ricotta to drain.  I wanted something quick. So I adapted it myself. And it actually turned out pretty good. I served the gnocchi with a red pepper (one might not can tell from the blog, but I am OBSESSED with red bell peppers), onion, and tomato sauce. I think you can serve it anyway you want thought: tomato sauce, pesto, and I even saw a few recipes that served it with a brown butter sage sauce. Yum.

Ricotta Gnocchi
adapted from several recipes, but mainly this one:
http://www.deliciousdays.com/archives/2009/05/19/15-minutes-to-fame-gnocchi-for-beginners-and-braggarts/

One container of ricotta cheese (the one I used was 15 ounces)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
about 1 tsp salt
About 1/2 cup flour

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Drain off some of the liquid from the ricotta, mainly just the stuff sitting at the top.  Stir together the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, and salt.  Add the flour little by little, until the mixture starts to come together and look a little firmer. It will be quite a sticky dough.

If you’re making the sauce, start now. The gnocchi will start to get sticky if you wait until after you’ve rolled them and cut them (but it’s not the end of the world if you forget)
Flour a board really well. You’ll need to add more flour as you go probably.  Take a spoonful of ricotta, roll it in the flour on the board until it’s coated pretty well, then roll it out to about a 1/2 inch thick log. The flour will make it keep it’s shape. Cut it into about 1/2 inch long pieces, or however long you’d like. Repeat with remaining dough.
Add a palmful of salt to the boiling water and put a few of the gnocchi in. Don’t put too many in, or they’ll stick together. Stir the gnocchi a few times so they don’t stick to the bottom. The gnocchi is done when they float to the top. Use a skimmer, spider, or slotted spoon to remove the gnocchi.

Toss the gnocchi VERY GENTLY with whatever sauce you are using.

Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce

2 red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
1/4 cup of marinara sauce
salt
pepper
a few basil leaves, chopped

Saute the red bell peppers and the onion in olive oil until they are soft. Add just enough marinara sauce to get the peppers and onions wet, about 1/4 of a cup.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then throw the fresh basil into it.

Sorry for the lack of posting. Senior year has started, and it’s been pretty hectic so far.

Thursday night, the night before my first Chemistry test, I was struck by the mood to cook dinner and de-stress a bit, since I was freaking out about the test. I couldn’t put too much time into cooking though…I needed to put most of my time into studying. So I decided the best compromise between my desire to cook and studying would be to go to Trader Joe’s, pick up some ready made fresh ravioli,  a jar of pesto, and a red pepper and throw them all together. Not exactly cooking (hate to break it to you, Sandra Lee) but it satisfied and relaxed me all the same. Oh, and it satisfied mine and Andrew’s stomachs. 🙂

By the way, I love Trader Joe’s. They have great things there. Just don’t go when you’re hungry, or else you’ll end up buying these chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels (chocolate+peanut butter+pretzels are like crack to me) and there’s just no way to turn that into a good situation.

Ravioli with Chicken, Red Pepper, and Pesto

2 packages ravioli (I mixed spinach and ricotta and artichoke)
1 jar pesto
1 red bell pepper, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
salt
pepper
1/2 a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (1/2 because we already had that left over. You could use a whole one and just add more pesto. Or you could use half and save the rest. Or you could get chicken breast and cook it)

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Heat the olive oil over medium high in a large pan. Add the chopped bell pepper, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper and cook until the pepper is soft. Cube or shred or chop the rotisserie chicken and add it to the peppers to heat through.

When the water is boiling, add a palmful of salt (about a tablespoon) and cook the ravioli according to package directions. Drain, and add to the chicken and peppers. Add the jar of pesto and toss to coat.

Every summer, I make a million things with blueberries in it. In my backyard, we have 8 or 10 blueberry bushes that produce what I would estimate to be several pounds of blueberries each summer. Anyway, my family and I can’t eat that many blueberries raw, so I make a plethora of baked goods featuring blueberries: muffins, bread, cake, pancakes, and, my family’s personal favorite, blueberry pie. I make at least 3 or 4 every summer, and have been doing so for the past few years, so you’d think by now I’d be used to getting the pastry just right. And I have been, up until today when I made it.

I remember the first time I made this pastry recipe a few years ago, I followed the recipe exactly, dubiously looked at the crumbly bowl of flour, butter, shortening, lemon juice, and water, and figured that’s what it was supposed to look like and would somehow magically come together after chilling in the refrigerator and after I rolled it out. After pulling it out of the fridge, having dough fall apart and crumble before my eyes out of the perfect disc I had beat it into. I then had a nervous breakdown, in which I resembled a 4 year old child having a temper tantrum, and ended up pressing pounding it into submission into the pan until it would at least serve as a something to hold the blueberry filling. Despite this difficult crust, the pie turned out delicious. From then on, I just added more and more water until the crust looked like every other pastry recipe I’ve ever made, and from then on all my pies have consistently turned out picture perfect beautiful. I’m a perfectionist, what can I say? It’s admirable, I suppose, but it’s also often my downfall.

Anyway, the last time I made a beautiful and scrumptious pie, I thought the crust was slightly tougher than usual. So, this time, I thought I’d cut back on the liquid.

This was a terrible idea.

My crust was crumbly, but as before when I made it, I deluded myself into thinking it would come together. It didn’t. I kneaded and beat it into submission before rolling it out, and managed to get two discs of dough to use as crust, but it is a terribly ugly pie. I hate serving pies that aren’t perfect. But at least I know the filling will taste lovely. And, I didn’t have a temper tantrum this time. that’s always good too.

Blueberry Pie
adapted from the More from Magnolia Cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/More-Magnolia-Recipes-Famous-Kitchen/dp/0743246616/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282330716&sr=1-1)

Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, chilled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3-7 tablespoons of ice water

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter and shortening until the pieces are pea size (You can do this with a pastry cutter, a fork like I use, or you can do this entire part in the food processor). Add the lemon juice and water and toss with a fork until moistened (you’ll want it to be pretty wet, enough to be able to form into discs, so keep adding water until the right consistency is reached). Gather the dough into a ball and separate into two discs. Wrap each disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Filling
3 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons quick cooking minute tapioca
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

Toss the berries, sugar, tapioca, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out one disc on a lightly floured surface to fit a 9-inch pie dish. Trim off excess if you wish (my family loves crust, so I usually leave it on and make an extra thick edge crust). Place the fruit filling into the bottom crust, and dot with the butter. Roll out the next disc and place it on top, again trimming if you’d like. Press the edge of the bottom crust and the edge of the top crust together, fold over, and crimp to seal. Make several 1-inch slits in the center with a knife. Protect the edges of the crust from burning by covering them and wrapping the edge with aluminum foil Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours, then serve and enjoy!

Andrew’s parents, whom I’ve met once before, visited last weekend, and I volunteered to make a dessert for when we have dinner. I decided to make a peach pie because I saw Georgia peaches in the grocery store the other day. While they are not nearly as great as South Carolina peaches (don’t worry SC…I won’t forsake your sweet, juicy, delicious peaches), they are still pretty good , and will definitely suffice for pie. I had my mom e-mail me the family recipe for peach pie. Since Andrew’s family also hails from Kentucky, I wanted to honor that by throwing some of the bourbon Andrew keeps around in with the peach filling (not part of Mom’s recipe, but I found a recipe on smittenkitchen.com). So, using my Mom’s pastry and Smitten Kitchen’s bourbon peach filling, I threw together what turned out to be a very pretty pie, if I do say so myself. And I think they really enjoyed it too. I hope so.

Another thing. If you forget the lemon juice in the pastry, don’t worry. Just replace it with cold water, or you can do like I did, which is squeeze a little juice from a peach (I was wearing my creative pants when I made the pastry, clearly) and throw it in there. It really won’t make a difference without it, though.

Also, I really suggest you try the bourbon, even if you don’t like bourbon. The filling does not taste like bourbon at all, but it complements the peaches in a way that you wouldn’t get from not using it. If you’re really against it, then just leave it out. But even everyone who doesn’t like bourbon still liked the pie.

What I love about this pie is that it wasn’t too sweet. There’s no sugar in the crust, and minimal sugar in the filling, which allows the natural sweetness of the peaches to really shine through.

Pastry Recipe (from my Mom. Love you!)
This pastry is super easy, super quick to put together, and you can make it up to 3 days in advance. It will work for sweet pies or savory pies. Pretty versatile, huh?
2 cups flour
6 tbsp. each – cold stick butter cut into small pieces
6 tbsp Crisco (or another solid shortening)
3 tbsp. cold water
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Put flour in medium bowl. cut in butter and shortening to look like small peas. Add water and lemon juice; toss with a fork until evenly moistened and pastry starts to clump together.
Gather into a ball , then divide in half. Press each half into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes until firm enough to roll out – up to 3 days.

Bourbon Peach Filling (adapted from SmittenKitchen.com)

9 or 10 peaches, cut into wedges
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze – 1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp. water

Mix the peaches with the flour, sugar and pinch of salt, and add the bourbon and vanilla. Toss together.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9″ pie plate. On lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin, roll out 1 disk pastry to a 12″ circle. Fit into pie plate. Add filling, spread evenly, then dot with 2 tbsp butter. Roll remaining pastry into an 11″ circle.

Center circle over filling; press edges together, tuck under edge of bottom crust , flute, then brush top with glaze. Cut a few slits in the top for venting, brush with glaze and sprinkle with sugar. Remember to put aluminum foil around the edges to prevent burning. Bake 50 minutes

This weekend, Andrew and I decided that for dinner we should do a really simple meal that required no cooking. That lead him to suggest getting prosciutto and french bread and some cheese. So, we went out to Whole Foods on a mission for those three things.

Of course, I added stuff to it (because I must make things more complicated than they are). We ended up with a French Baguette, a pack of roasted red peppers, strawberries (they looked beautiful in the package, so I had to get some), cantaloupe, honeydew, a quarter pound of prosciutto, a small wedge of Brie, and a small wedge of aged provolone. Acquiring the prosciutto was probably the hardest part, as I have never ordered fresh sliced prosciutto (I usually just go for the prepackaged, since the only time I’ve really used it, it’s been cooked into a pasta dish). When I ordered, I asked for half a pound, since that’s what I usually get when I ask for deli meat. Luckily, the man slicing it was nice enough to suggest that perhaps I should look at what a quarter pound looked like, as it is sliced very thing but adds up. I’m so glad he did…it ended up being more than enough! (by more than enough, I mean we ate all of it, but were comfortable full).

We brought it back, heated up the bread, heated up the brie, sliced and washed the strawberries, and voila, we had antipasto. Or, our version of it. I don’t think Italians use brie or French baguette in their antipasto. It was such a fresh and satisfying meal. I don’t know what Andrew did, as I was too busy eating to watch him combine the different components, but I found that aged provolone and roasted red peppers go beautifully together, prosciutto and melon is a fantastic and refreshing salty sweet combination, and brie and French baguette…well, I mean, those always work together.  The strawberries (not as sweet as they looked in the package but were fine when sprinkled with a touch of sugar) served as our dessert. Kind of wish I’d come up with something a little more impressive for dessert, but oh well. Perhaps next time.

I really enjoyed having this kind of light but filling dinner. It was satisfying, but not so heavy that it weighed me down (though I should probably not eat as much of the bread next time…but WF makes some really awesome French bread).