Monday, May 24, 2010

Rigatoni with Goat Cheese

I had goat cheese left over from the spread I made last week, so I decided to make this recipe for dinner tonight - it's a favorite around here!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Goat Cheese Spread

I made this spread to have with the bread I made. It was SO GOOD - I highly recommend that you try it. If you want to keep it simpler, just make the goat cheese/cream cheese mixture. It was wonderful even without the pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.
(I was unable to take a picture until the day after I served it, so here it's a little bit lopsided, but when I served it the loaf came out perfectly from the pan. It looked great in addition to tasting great!)

Goat Cheese Spread
Southern Living, September 2002

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
8 ounces goat cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons chopped fresh, or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried, oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped

Process first 5 ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread one-third of the cheese mixture onto the bottom of a plastic wrap-lined 8-x4-inch loaf pan. Top with pesto; spread one-third cheese mixture over pesto. Sprinkle with dried tomatoes; top with remaining cheese mixture. Cover and chill 8 hours. Invert spread onto a serving plate, discarding plastic wrap.

12 to 16 appetizer servings

No-Knead Crusty White Bread

I have a love/hate relationship with homemade bread . There is nothing quite like homemade bread -  the smell as it bakes, the fresh taste of a just-baked loaf. But I hate, hate , hate kneading dough. I just really hate the mess that it makes in the kitchen (and on me), and I have no patience for the time that it takes. So when I saw this recipe for no-knead bread I knew that I had to try it. And I'm really glad that I did! It was so easy, and the results were fantastic! Everybody who tasted it raved about how good it was. I will definitely be making this often!
I did make a couple small changes: I did not have instant yeast, so I used an equal amount of active dry yeast that I dissolved in the water for 5 minutes before adding the flour and salt. Also, when I mixed everything together, the dough was a bit dry (I don't know if it was because of the weather or because I used a different brand of flour) so I added an extra 1/4 cup or so of warm water to make a wet dough.
I let mine rise for 5 days.

No-Knead Crusty White Bread

The most basic of all no-knead loaves, this is a wonderful way to get into yeast-bread baking. The easy stir-together dough rests in your refrigerator, developing flavor all the time, till you're ready to bake. About 90 minutes before you want to serve bread, grab a handful of dough, shape it, let it rise, then bake for 30 minutes. The result? Incredible, crusty artisan-style bread. If you're a first-time bread baker, you'll never believe this bread came out of your own oven. If you're a seasoned yeastie, you'll love this recipe's simplicity.
Our thanks to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, whose wonderful book, Artisan bread in Five Minutes a Day, is the inspiration for this recipe.

3 cups lukewarm water
2 pounds King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (6 1/2 - 7 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

* If you measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess, use 7 1/2 cups. If you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then sweeping off the excess, use 6 1/2 cups. Most accurate of all, and guaranteed to give you the best results, if you measure the flour by weight, use 32 ounces (2 pounds).

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl or a large (6-quart) food-safe plastic container. For first-timers, "lukewarm" means about 105F, but don't worry about getting the temperatures exact here. Comfortably warm is fine; "OUCH, that's hot!" is not. Yeast is a living thing; treat it nicely.

Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with a beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don't have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk until everything is combined. Next, you're going to let the dough rise. If you've made the dough in a plastic container, you're all set - just let it stay there, covering the container with a lid or plastic wrap; a shower cap actually works well here. If you've made the dough in a bowl that's not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it's going to rise a lot. There's no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it's time to bake bread.

Cover the bowl or container, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or up to about 7 days. (If you're pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it will get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it'll rise, then fall. That's okay; that's what it's supposed to do.

When  you're ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough - a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It'll be about the size of a softball or a large grapefruit.

Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball or a longer log. Don't fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can.

Place the dough on a piece of parchment parchment paper (if you're going to use a baking stone), or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the dough moist as it rests before baking.

Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. It won't appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it'll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven (and baking stone, if you're using one) to 450F while the dough rests. Place a shallow pan on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.

When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2-inch deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that's okay. It'll pick right up in the hot oven.

Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the cup of hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.

Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown.

Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

3 to 4 loaves.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marinara Sauce

Next week I am going to be making a few things that use marinara sauce, so today I threw together this super-simple recipe. I portioned it into zip-top bags to put in the freezer until I need to use it.

Marinara Sauce
Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 2 quarts (8 cups)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Veggie Slaw

This is a great fresh-flavored alternative to a creamy coleslaw.

Veggie Slaw
The Kosher Palette II

1 head red cabbage, shredded, or 2 (12-ounce) bags shredded red cabbage
1 pound carrots, shredded
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 each orange, yellow and red peppers, chopped
1 Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into small pieces

Garlic Herb Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh dill weed, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard
2 to 3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine cabbage, carrots, red onion, and bell peppers in a large bowl.
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and process until well mixed.
Toss the salad with the dressing and avocado, and mix well.
12-14 servings

Meatballs in Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

Every so often I just want to have a not-quite-so-healthy comfort food kind of meal. When I do, I often turn to this meatball recipe. It's meant to be an appetizer, but if you make the meatballs larger and serve it over rice, it makes a really great dinner.
I did serve it with a veggie-filled slaw to add SOME nutrition to this meal :)

Meatballs in Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

1 cup jellied cranberry sauce
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 pound ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 onion, grated (I use 1/2 onion, minced)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

In a large saucepan combine cranberry sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and lemon juice. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until smooth, 25 to 30 minutes.
In a large bowl combine the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, onion and seasonings. Form into 1-inch balls. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer, covered, for one hour. Serve hot.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Island Bean Burgers with Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce

One of my favorite go-to cookbooks is Donna Klein's Vegan Italiano. It's filled with delicious recipes that are healthy, inexpensive and easy to make. When I saw that she had a new cookbook out, The Tropical Vegan Kitchen, I immediately checked it out from the library.
Last night I tried my first recipe from it - Island Bean Burgers with Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce. Although I have tried many bean burger recipes before, and liked them, I never thought I'd classify one as an "Oh, my God!" recipe. But that is exactly what I exclaimed when I took my first bite of this. The burgers themselves were very good, but the sauce just took them over to fantastic! Seriously. I'm already looking forward to making them again.
I had them with roasted sweet potato wedges... which I dipped into the extra sauce, of course! Yum!

Island Bean Burgers with Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce
The Tropical Vegan Kitchen, Donna Klein

For a spicier burger, add a dash of hot pepper sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper to the bean mixture before cooking.

1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
1 cup cooked brown rice, preferably warm
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil (I used canola)
4 hamburger buns, preferably whole wheat
Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, mix together the beans, rice, onion, ketchup, chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper until well combined. Mash well with a potato masher. Divide mixture into 4 balls. With wet hands, form each ball into an even patty.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the patties and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Place each patty inside a hamburger bun and serve at once, passing the Creole sauce separately.

4 servings

Caribbean-Style Creole Sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1 teaspoon molasses
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or more to taste (I used sriracha - Thai hot chili sauce)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add the parsley and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in the ketchup, water, vinegar, lime juice, molasses, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remover from heat and let cool to room temperature. Mixture can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Makes about 1 cup