Thursday, January 29, 2009

Linguine with Red Clam Sauce

Good evening! Today I am going for a mostly pantry meal. Normally one might make this dish with bottled clam juice or similar, but I actually had some frozen shrimp stock that I decided to incorporate into the dish (well, not all of it. Turns out I had a lot more than I thought). And I'm leaving the wine out, because although I know there's some in the pantry somewhere, the where has escaped me. Hope you enjoy!

2-3 tablespoons olive oil (30 cents)
1/2 onion, roughly chopped (15 cents)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (3 cents)
salt and pepper to taste (penny)
1 teaspoon thyme (2-3 cents)

1 can crushed tomatoes (50 cents)
1 cup clam juice or shrimp broth (this was free to me, since I used shells from shrimps)
splash lemon juice (5 cents)
salt and pepper to taste (penny)
pinch sugar (penny)

1 can clams (~1 dollar, though I don't know what they cost these days

8 ounces linguine, cooked according to package directions (75 cents - man, pasta is getting pricey! 1.59 if you use the whole pound)

Heat your pan to medium and add the oil. Heat the oil, then add the onion, salt, pepper and thyme. Sweat down for a bit then add garlic and cook another couple minutes. Add tomatoes, clam/shrimp juice (I pour this in the tomato can first to help get out the stuff that's stuck to the can), salt, pepper and sugar. Cook down until thick (this took me longer than it will take you, because I was watching tv so I had the heat pretty low. So figure 15-20 minutes), then add clams. Cook another minute or so, until the clams are heated. Toss with pasta, eat. Serves two. Also nice with a loaf of freshly baked bread.

If you want to add more cans of clams, the sauce can be a little thinner. Also if you are using fresh clams, which really would make this dish far more impressive than mine looks and you could leave out the clam/shrimp juice because your clams will provide it. If you want to stretch this to four servings, just use the rest of the pound of pasta.

This picture is horrific, but the food is yum.

Total cost (2 servings): $2.84 (4 servings): $3.68
Per serving (2 servings): $1.42 (4 servings): $0.92

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Beet Stems and Black Beans

In keeping with my bergamot theme (the rest of you should use the juice from either lemon or Seville orange), I bring you these stems. If you are not of the mindset to save the stems of your bunches of beets, rhubarb would be an acceptable substitute, though you will want to reduce the citrus by half. Enjoy!

1 tablespoon each: olive and vegetable oil
1 small sprig dill
2 cups beet stems, cut into 2" strips
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 radishes sliced thickly
1 sliced carrot
1 cup cooked black beans (I do them from dry and cook them w/ a bay leaf)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons bergamot juice

Add dill and oils to a small pan. Heat over very low heat and allow to infuse for 20 or so minutes. Remove dill and discard. Add all remaining except beans and bergamot juice and cook over medium or medium-low heat until somewhat softer. Add citrus and beans and cook the rest of the way through. Serves 2 (as a side).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caramel Fail

I was making those ever-so-popular fleur de sel caramels today when I learned that maybe one should do the dishes either before, or after the candy making. It's been a while since I made real candy, so I excuse the forgetfulness. As a result of my negligence, I let it boil 5 or so degrees higher than the recipe called for. Oops. It set up quicker than the recommended two hours, and did not have that lovely, creamy-sticky-soft mouth-feel. What happened instead was that the caramels turned into a lovely caramel-toffee cross. Initially, it feels like toffee, but then you chew it a bit and it becomes sticky and soft, but not like a real caramel. Delicious, but not what I wanted*.

I am learning from the fail in three ways:

1) Watch the pot, not the cleaning
2) In case of a fail of #1, set the alarm on the candy thermometer
3) On fail days, open a can of homemade pasta sauce instead of chancing ruining dinner (this is preemptive learning since I have not ruined dinner yet, by choosing to use the stuff I canned instead of "real" cooking)

*Which goes to show that the people at Gourmet are geniuses. Obviously, if they weren't, total screw ups w/ their recipes wouldn't still taste good.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Ultimate Bergamot Pie

Okay... I've decided to stop being secretive. I'm going to share the recipe. Mind you, it's 500 calories a slice (and everyone eats at least 2), but it's worth it. I can't believe I'm finally sharing this recipe.

I first made this pie because I had a dream that I was sitting at my old prep table, eating a slice of this pie. I woke up from the dream, determined to write down what I could remember of the pie. Since I needed to really think on it to break down the flavours in my head, I took a long bath and scribbled on the tile walls in crayons. It took me somewhere between 30-50 pies (possibly more) before it tasted exactly like it was in my dream (let's call it a 15 pound weight gain before it was perfect).

For some reason, people seem to have trouble getting this pie right without actually participating in the making first, but I think you guys can do it. If in some parts of this recipe, I sound a little nutty, don't be alarmed. I have a deep, deep attachment to this pie and I'm a little weird about it. I hope you enjoy!

Crust:

30 grams grated macadamia nuts (get the salted, roasted ones, preferably Mauna Loa brand) (I grate them in a microplane rotary grater, like the cheese one at Olive Garden. Also, I just fill the hopper of the grater one time, but it generally works out to be about 30 grams)
1 cup-ish vanilla wafer flour (I grind these up in the food processor until the cookies are flour. I use an old Salton food processor to do this, and I usually just fill it up once, but it's roughly a cup)
63 grams European-style butter (my preference is Jana's from New Zealand), melted

Preheat oven to 350F (325F if you're using a glass pie pan). Dump the grated nuts and vanilla wafer flour in the pie pan, and mix it until it looks homogeneous and it feels peaceful. Make a well in the center, then pour in the butter. Mix it together with your (clean!) hands until it's almost like a paste, and press it into the pan and up the sides. Bake 10 minutes.

Filling:

1 can sweetened condensed milk (okay, the best one for this is the Hill Country Fair in the pink can, and don't ask me why this is because I don't know. It just tastes right. But if you don't have that brand available to you, don't sweat it because you won't know the difference anyway. I'm just giving the brand so people who can get the HCF stuff will do so)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup bergamot juice (this should NOT be fresh. It should be frozen and thawed or it doesn't come out exactly right)

Whisk the yolks until they are lemon coloured and happy looking (yes, I know this sounds weird). Add in the milk and whisk until it doesn't look like the eggs are sad to be with the milk anymore (yes, I also know that sounds even crazier). Whisk in the juice until it's completely integrated and the filling looks smooth and a little glossy, almost, then pour into the pie crust. Bake 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature on the counter, then refrigerate.

Serves 8, theoretically, but really serves 4.



Photo courtesy of SJ.

Bergamot and Cranberry Scones

I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Originally, it's a lemon and cranberry recipe. What initially caught my eye was Deb's mention of how disappointing it is that fresh cranberries get so little use (outside of sauce for the holiday table) in favour of the little dried bits. I could not agree more with her, and I am always trying to find ways to incorporate real cranberries into my baked goods. These scones were perfect not only for that, but for the substitution of bergamot in lieu of meyer lemon.

I don’t think I froze enough rounds (I decided to bake 3 per person, which was too many - 3 would've been plenty for the two of us), but these are really, really wonderful. Slightly sweet and delightfully tart when you bite into one of the cranberries. They’re soft inside, slightly crispy on the outside and just wonderful little pillows of happiness. I’m putting curd on them when I want a sweeter bite and eating them solo when I want a sweet-tart bite. And happily, I have two more breakfast's worth of these little guys in the freezer for later. Enjoy!

(the next part is quoted directly from the link above, my changes are in italics)

"1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons; preferably Meyer) {1 scant tablespoon dried, crushed bergamot peel}
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons additional if using fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse, or 1 1/4 cups dried cranberries, if you insist
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

Accompaniment: creme fraiche or whipped cream {bergamot curd}

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a vegetable peeler remove the zest from lemons and chop fine, reserving lemons for another use.

In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture. If using dried fruit, add to flour mixture.

In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden. {if you are as bad as I am at visually gauging things as I am, get your ruler out before hand, so you don't have to yell across the house to someone who's playing video games to bring you the ruler QUICK!! Oh, and use a real biscuit cutter that's open on top, because it can be a nightmare to get them out of your biscuit-converts-to-donuts cutter if you didn't flour it well enough}

[I decided to rebel and pat them into a square and cut them into smaller ones. The square shapes didn't keep very well, so I don't recommend this! Learn from me, people.]

Serve scones warm with creme fraiche or whipped cream. Scones keep, individually wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, chilled, 1 day or frozen 1 week."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Borscht

I find it odd I never posted this before. In my head, I had shared this recipe. But apparently, once again, what happened in my head and what happened in reality have nothing to do with one another. So I'm posting it now, as my entry for this month's In the Bag. I got this recipe from a Belorussian I used to know, who had changed his family's recipe from pork to beef in order to accommodate the dietary needs of his Muslim roommate. The only thing I've changed is the addition of garlic. Enjoy!

12 ounces beef (I used sirloin, but you use what you have), cut into cubes
2 potatoes, cut into large cubes
1-2 bay leaves
pinch salt
2 quarts water
a few whole cloves of garlic (optional)

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 beets, cut into sticks
3 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 large chopped onion
1 large chopped tomato
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar

Boil the first group of ingredients for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam from the top. Fry the second group of ingredients until the beets are soft. Add all of the second group, including juices, to the first (if needed, add another 2 cups or so of water). Cook 30 minutes or more (this is great for the slow cooker, too, which is what I made it in this time). Serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro. Serves 4.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bergamot Curd

As promised, here is the curd recipe. This is perfect for scones, toast, just to eat, or for an unusual twist on the filling typically used in those little fruit tarts. If bergamots are not available to you, you could always use lemon, Seville orange, sweet types of orange (cut the sugar a bit though), lime, pomello, grapefruit or any other citrus. Enjoy!

9 ounces freshly squeezed bergamot juice
2 tablespoons finely grated zest
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons butter, cut into 1 tablespoon bits

Whisk all but butter into a saucepan. Begin to heat over medium low heat and add all the butter. Whisking periodically, cook until the whisk marks stay in the curd. Pack into sterilised jars (or you can just put this in a jar and put it in the fridge, if you don't want to can it) and process 15 minutes. Makes about 3 cups.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sandwich Dip

We ordered in some Italian-style sandwiches tonight, but wanted a homemade dressing to dip it in. Here it is:

1 heaping tablespoon stone ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon each: garlic juice, dry minced garlic, italian seasonings, marjoram, kosher salt, seasoned salt
1/4 cup sherry dressing
extra virgin olive oil to taste

Whisk together all but the oil until it forms a paste-like mass. Slowly whisk in oil until it's of the desired consistency. Any leftovers can be used for just plain bread, or a salad.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tangy Home Fries

I love potatoes, but I usually forget. I've probably told you that before, though (the downside to absent-mindedness?). Today, P asked if I'd make some breakfast food. So we decided to have potatoes and eggs (over hard).

2-3 potatoes (mine were small), finely diced
3 scallions, sliced thickly
2 tablespoons each: butter, olive oil
large pinch each: aleppo pepper, sumac, salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses

Melt butter into the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, seasoned with the salt, pepper and sumac and cook, around 15 minutes (some people par boil potatoes first, but I like to watch tv while I cook them, so I do it turtle-style). Add lemon and pomegranate molasses and continue to cook another 15 minutes. Add scallions and cook until done. Serves 2.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pickled Vegetables (Refrigerator Style)

I love those little bottles of Italian Gardeniera mix. Love them. I don't know if I love their flavour more, or the fact that one jar is a whopping 40 calories. Either way, they're delicious, but oh-so-expensive!

While we were at the farmer's market, P and I saw some lovely purple cauliflower, sitting right next to huge bunches of dill and beautiful bouquets of broccoli. We thought they'd be nice to pickle together. The broccoli didn't quite make it into the jar, because I put so much other stuff in, but I will probably do the broccoli in other jars later. I hope you enjoy!

3 litres of mixed vegetables (I used the purple cauliflower, 3 carrots, a cup or two of celery sliced into 2" lengths, 2 green bell peppers in chunks, and half a bulb of fennel/anise, sliced thin, plus 10 cloves of garlic)
1 cup large sprigs of dill
4 1/2 cups vinegar (I used an equal mix of cider, white distilled and white wine, but you use what you like)
3 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt*
1 tablespoon bay leaves (I used all the crushed ones at the bottom of the bag)
1 teaspoon each: fennel seed, coriander seed
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 dried chile arbol (1 per jar) (optional)

Okay, so I used 2 1 1/2-litre jars (like these, which I bought for this specific application), but you do whatever kind of jars you have or prefer. Pack in an equal amount of dill in each jar, then equal amounts of veggies and chiles. Bring the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and spices to a boil, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Pour the mixture into the jars, seal jars (not w/ a water bath, though if you are using traditional jars you are more than welcome to can them normally) and let come to room temperature, then refrigerate. Leave them in the fridge without eating for a couple hours up to a few days. Eat!

*Originally, I had about 3 cups less liquid I was using, so I probably should've increased the salt when I boiled more vinegar/water, but I forgot. If you're worried about it, double the salt. I'm not really sweatin' it, because I know they're going to be living in the fridge, and I also know they're not going to be around long, because I am HONGREE!! (and silly)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bergamot Marmalade

Okay, so this post is really only going to be of benefit to people in California, Brazil, France, Italy and a few other places, but this is basically all I've been thinking about recently. Everyone else can pretend I'm talking about regular sour oranges, or can call their local produce vendor to see about acquiring some of the little guys. I just can't keep it all in!

Anyway, I got my case of bergamot oranges delivered (by the way? Not a particularly easy feat when you live in a citrus state and need citrus from another citrus state). I zested and juiced 26 of the oranges the day before yesterday, my head spinning with all the possibilities. It's been so long since my home has smelled like this lovely, spicy, beautiful orange. Because I didn't have enough ice cube trays to deal with the juice (okay... in fairness, to deal w/ the juice and the vegetable stock I'm also freezing 2 tablespoons at a time), I stuck the 10 cups of juice in a container and stuffed it in the fridge, and then I oven dried all the zest overnight. I've been slowly freezing a tray of juice here and there, transferring the cubes to gallon sized freezer bags (I'm really going to have to cook one of those turkeys soon I think, so free up some space) as I have time.

Yesterday we went and got a couple more ice trays (and a new tv for P), and by the time we'd come home, I was certain I wanted to make a batch of bergamot marmalade. Well, and curd. But I'm not doing the curd until tomorrow or the next day. It's a modified version of the grapefruit marmalade recipe in the Ball Blue Book. Enjoy!

4 bergamot oranges, broken down into 2/3 cup thinly sliced peel (with some pith) and about 1 1/2 cup pulp, broken into large-ish bits.
1 quart water
sugar

Peel and supreme the oranges. This recipe takes the peel of about 2 oranges. I used a vegetable peeler on the other two and oven dried the peel, but kept the ends, pith, seeds and membranes (from all the oranges that didn't have their peel/pith go into cut peel, I just kept the seeds and membranes) because they have a lot of pectin and for some reason my stuff always takes an eternity to set. Every bit helps, I guess. Tie up all the ends, pith, seeds and membranes in cheese cloth.

Take your sliced peel and cover w/ water. Boil for 10 minutes, then drain. Then add in the flesh, the quart of water and the cheese cloth of miscellaneous bits and boil another 10 minutes. Cover it and stick it in the fridge overnight (up to 18-ish hours). Discard cheesecloth bundle, and cook over low-ish heat until the peels are completely softened. Measure your mixture and add an equal volume of sugar to it (i.e., if you have 4 cups of mixture, add 4 cups of sugar). Reheat it, stirring it until the sugar dissolves, then cook rapidly until it reaches the gelling point (go down to the part about how to tell when it's gelled). Pack into hot jars, leaving 1/4" head space, then process for 15 minutes (at sea level). Makes about 3 half-pints, theoretically, but I wound up w/ 5 (which means it probably won't set perfectly, so I will probably fix it, one jar at a time later, when I want to use it, since I don't really feel like dealing with it at the moment).

Friday, January 02, 2009

Spaghetti with Beet Greens

I did this with turnip greens lately, but it went horribly wrong. I'm not sure what went wrong, I only know that it was so bad, we tossed the food and ordered pizza. So here we are again, except today I have beet greens (which honestly, I prefer over turnip). And that it's not disgusting this time. Enjoy!

1 bunch beet greens
2 tablespoons each: olive oil, butter, lemon juice
1/2 onion, sliced very thin
salt to taste
8 ounces spaghetti or fettucini (I thought I had fettucini, which is what I wanted, but I was out), cooked according to package directions
1/2 preserved lemon, sliced very thin

Heat butter and oil in large skillet. Add onion and some salt, then cook down a bit. Add greens, salt, lemon juice and preserved lemon. Cook down, then add pasta and toss together. Serves 2.