Sunday, October 4, 2020
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Pasta is on the rotation for dinner at our house about once a week. Most the time its some variation of Pasta Whatever (looking back at this post, it's one that I should update!), tonight it's going to be Mac and Cheese, sometimes it's premade Tortoni's from Trader Joes. Another thing that has been on the weekly rotation is a batch of beans cooked in the pressure cooker. Often its Beans and Greens with Sausage (pretty much follow this recipe, using unsoaked beans and cook for 20 - 22 minutes using the bean setting on the cooker), sometimes I just cook plain beans like black beans or chickpeas that go into other things, like tacos or queso's, salads, humous, etc. Looking for a way to use up some freshly cooked chickpeas, I discovered a new recipe that is getting made at least once a month. I found it on a google search (chickpea pasta) on a fun blog called It is 2020 and We Are Food Blogging, Baby, traced in back to a recipe on the New York times cooking app, and pretty much follow the recipe as far as ingredients, but change up a couple of things to make it easier.
A couple of things make this pasta different that my normal. One is adding chickpeas (which is an Italian tradition), but you also mash some of the chickpeas to thicken the sauce. You are also using parsley as a green, a whole bunch is used. Although I haven't tried it, I think this would be good with any green like spinach if you didn't have parsley on hand. The other things that give this pasta flavors that are different than my typical flavor palette is adding rosemary (which comes from one of the big bushes in my yard) and butter. Adding butter to make things better should not be a surprise, why have I never done this?
One change to the NYT's recipe is to use a potato masher to mash the beans in the skillet ... no need for another bowl! The other is to transfer the pasta directly from the pasta pot to the skillet using a large slotted spoon. This keeps from getting a colander dirty, plus I don't accidently forget to save some of the pasta water for the sauce at the end.
8 ounces penne other short, sturdy pasta
2 cups cooked chickpeas, home-cooked or canned
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
½ onion, diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes, plus more as needed
1 ½ cups chickpea cooking liquid (if canned, just use water)
3 cups fresh parsley leaves (from 1 large bunch)
⅔ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon butter
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt and Ground black pepper to taste
Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta, then immediately start the sauce.
For the sauce, heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic until just starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in onions, rosemary, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
When the water boils add the pasta.
Just after starting the pasta to cook, add the chickpeas to the onions, and use a potato masher to lightly mash them; they should be about half-crushed. Then add the cooking liquid or water. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down or off if the pasta is not done yet.
When the pasta is slightly underdone, transfer the pasta to the sauce using a slotted spoon (alternately, save a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta with a colander). Add parsley, and cook (turn the heat back up to medium if you turned it down) until the pasta has finished cooking and is coated in the sauce, 1 to 2 minutes, adding pasta water to get a nice sauce (typically I will add a 1/2 cup or so). Quickly toss in cheese, butter, lemon zest and black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Divide into bowls, and sprinkle with additional cheese to garnish.
Monday, July 20, 2020
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Friday, May 15, 2020
As we shelter at home, I have been doing my best to make sure we are eating healthy. We do get take-out once a week or so for a break from cooking, and we do seem to have baked goods around but I try to offset that with lots of vegetables ... fortunately it's spring and the farmers market has some great product. At the Coronado Farmers Market where I go, most of the the farmers are there, but the organic farm that I buy my greens, root vegetables like radishes and carrots, and random other vegetables has just been offering boxes. From what I have been reading, many small farmers who typically supplied to restaurants are now offering CSA-type boxes. The boxes I have been getting are wonderful ...
A long, long time ago I wrote a post on what to do with all the greens from a CSA box, and I have been hitting those recipes and more, like spinach crusted quiche, beans and greens, curried lentils and salads. I made some calzones with a mixture of greens that came out really nice and will post that at some point. Plus I share some of my greens with a neighbor when there is just too much (she was able the buy a 25 pound bag of flour, which she has shared both as flour and as baked into above mentioned treats). My box has included lots of beets, last week I got some kohlrabi so I have been doing some quick pickles. Quick pickles extend the life of vegetables, and are a quick side dish or appetizer. Pickled kohlrabi goes great with sandwiches (a nice crunchy-salty bite that is not a chip) and pickled green beans are great for picnics and cookouts which hopefully we can get back to this summer!
After lots of experiments, my go-to quick pickle base is 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 1 tablespoon of salt plus spices. (note - if you are using fine grain sea salt, only use 2 teaspoons as if is more dense). There are lots of variations: many pickle recipes call for sugar in addition to salt, all types of vinegar (personally I'm too cheap to use expensive wine vinegars, and white vinegar is sometimes a bit sharp), various ratios of vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. What this means is that most anything works! I generally add some red pepper flakes to give the pickles a little kick, but do whatever sounds good to you!
Pro tip... if using pint jars, trim the green beans to fit. Use quart jars if you have long green beans.
|Pickled Beet Recipe coming soon!|
Monday, April 13, 2020
I am grateful for so many things ... so far my friends and family are all healthy, we have a nice house, live someplace where we can get out for walks and runs, great neighbors, technology that lets us get together virtually. Now if it would just stop raining!
Some of what I have been cooking ... some new recipes and some old:
A new recipe, Pasta with Chickpeas from Melissa Clark at the NYT cooking.
I have been getting what are essentially CSA boxes from my favorite farmer at the Farmers market.. including lots of beets.
There have been lots of meals with green incorporated in them...
And we have not had to sacrifice our lunch salads.. And in case you think every meal is all healthy and green like this, the salad is incorporating some left-over take-out fried chicken from a local restaurant (doing our part to support local business...).
Like pizza (I have been experimenting with a no-knead crust) and Macaroni and Cheese.
Also in the comfort food category was Meatloaf. And the mini-loaf I froze came out great. I thawed in a bowl of cold water (took about an hour), then it needed to bake for about 45 minutes.
I've also been experimenting with no-knead bread ... but that's another post. Stay well, and let me know how you are doing!
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
I don't know about everyone else, but I certainly am doing more cooking as we do our part to control the coronavirus by staying home, including pulling out some recipes I haven't made in a long time. And when I made this meatloaf, I didn't think to take pictures of it going together. I just got the one picture I used in my last post. And I was going to take a picture of the sandwich, but remembered when I was just down to crumbs on the plate. But it was a good looking plate.
Meatloaf is one of those foods I don't make often... in part because we don't eat that much meat, and when we do, we tend to do something quick (like grill some steaks or fish), or something that is more soupy, like stew or beans with ham or sausage. The meatloaf I grew up with was the one on the back of the Quaker Oatmeal box. It uses oats to stretch the meat instead of breadcrumbs (which i think is more common), which gives a nice bit of fiber. Milk is added for moisture (and any kind of milk or unsweet alternate milk would work, also guess plain yogurt would work just fine too). Something to enhance the unami gives a better depth of flavor ... I usually use fish sauce, but Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce would do the same thing. The egg helps bind everything together. You can use any kind of ground meat, although my husband commented that the one I made was better than he remembered, it might have been because I used good hamburger from our local store rather than ground turkey which I was I had used in the (long) past. I also used some nice spicy Italian sausage (and if you don't want any spice, a sweet Italian or breakfast sausage will work too). Catsup is used as a glaze (some recipes actually call for catsup in the loaf, which I think would be just awful sweet), and a bit of bacon makes for a nice touch.
And while I am hoping for the best, I am also trying to boost the reserves soups and stews in my freezer. It seems that we are starting to get past the shortages in the grocery store, and the farmers markets are currently open in California. Plus, as least here, we have many take-out options available. So this is not from fear of not being able to get food. Its more about being prepared to actually get the virus. While we read about the dire situations in Italy, Spain, and New York and shortages of ICU beds, the majority of people who get this are able to stay at home and get through it. Having some things that are easy cook (thaw and heat easy) and comforting to eat seems smart. So when I made this meatloaf, I doubled the recipe. I cooked half, I split the other half into 2 loaves and put those in the freezer. I put into the smaller loaves so they would thaw a freeze and cook faster... but now wondering if that was a mistake, because there won't be enough leftovers for sandwiches, which might be the best way to eat meatloaf. And since I have no idea how long it will take to cook the smaller loaves, I will just use my trusty Thermapen to tell me when it's done.
About 4 servings
2/3 cups oats
½ cup milk
½ onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garlic salt (or a ½ teaspoon of salt and minced clove of garlic)
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or Fish Sauce or Soy Sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 pound ground meat – hamburger, turkey, venison
¼ to ½ lb spicy bulk sausage – use the higher amount if ground meat is lean
bacon (2 slices or so)
Heat oven to 350F. Use convection if you have it.
Add the first group of ingredients in order to a medium bowl (it’s good for the oats to soak a bit in the milk). Mix together (hands work best for this). Pat mixture so it is level in the bowl, then turn into a baking dish (like a 9x9 inch pan). Put catsup on top and rub some on the sides, and garnish with parsley and bacon.
Bake for about an hour or so (a little less if using convection), center should be at 160F. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
I started writing this a while back... never imagining that we would all be doing a lot more cooking at home. So it seems a good time to put out this post on a way to help make results of home cooking more predictable and safe! Also ... if anyone has questions on cooking, don't hesitate to shoot me a question (call, text message, or FB messenger). Based on what I see sold out at the grocery stores, I imagine that a lot of people have some strange combinations of food in their kitchens. I'm here if you have questions on cooking beans or anything else! And now that I seem to have some time on my hands, I will try to get some more recipes posted (including above meatloaf).
The people that read my blog (I think its my mom and 2 friends) know that my background is engineering, and that I can geek out on the science of cooking. The chemical changes that food undergoes as you heat it (otherwise known as cooking) fascinates me. And there just so happens to be a useful metric to know when things are cooked... it's temperature! The best way to tell if things are done on the inside (especially big dense things, like meatloaf, roasts or turkeys) is to take the temperature with a thermometer. I think the best thermometer available is the Thermopen (and no, they are not sponsoring me). The Thermopen's read much faster than others on the market, so you can move through something like a steak and find the coolest spot in the center. Go directly to the Thermoworks website to get one, not Amazon.
Temperature is widely used to determine doneness of meat ... rare, medium rare, well all correspond to a temperature range. While you can determine doneness on thinner cuts of meat by pressing to see how firm it is, this is more challenging to do on thicker cuts of steak or roasts... Plus it takes a lot of practice and experience to be good at it. You can also use temperature to know if a casserole is cooked (and hot enough to safe), to tell if bread is done, as well as jams or candy. Temperature is also handy for fish like salmon or tuna that you don't want fully cooked to the "flakes easily" (and dried out) stage. Here is a handy dandy table with all the temperatures I use ... it's in the latest update of my cookbook. Here you go...
IS IT DONE?
These are the final temperatures that you want; remove from heat 5°F lower than desired temperature as the temperature will come up as it rests. And if there is a tiny cold spot, it will warm up even more as the heat will continue to distribute.
Beef / Lamb: Rare 120 – 130 °F (49-54°C)
Roasts, steaks, Medium Rare 130 – 135 °F (54-57°C)
Chops Medium 135-145°F (57-63°C)
Medium Well 145-155 oF (63-68°C)
Pork: Medium 140 °F
Roast, chops Medium Well (USDA) 145 °F (63°C)
Pre-cooked ham Hot 140 °F (60°C)
Raw ham Done 160 °F (71°C)
Brisket, Ribs, Pork Butt Done 185 °F (85°C)
Hamburger, sausage Done (USDA) 160 °F (71°C)
Chicken/Turkey: UDSA 165 °F (74°C)
White meat Done 155 °F
Dark meat Done 165 °F (74°C)
Stuffing in bird Done 165 °F (74°C)
Dark meat Done 160°F +
Breast meat Medium - Rare 135°F
Fish: Fully cooked 140 °F
Halibut Medium 130 °F
Salmon Medium Rare 125 °F
Tuna (rare) Rare 115°F (or less)
Casseroles: 165 °F (74°C) - 175°F
Quiche 160°F (71°C) or higher depending on fillings
Hollandaise Sauce 145-150°F
Yogurt: Heat milk to 180°F for 2 minutes, cool to 110°F to add yogurt starter.
Bread and baked goods: Should also be appropriately brown on the outside
Rich Dough 190-200°F (88-93°C)
Lean Dough 200-210°F (93-99°C)
Water temp to add yeast 105-115°F (41-46°C)
Molten Chocolate Cake 160°F
Fruit Pies 175°F
Jam 217-222°F (103-106°C) Subtract 2°F for every 1000 feet of elevation
Thread 230-234°F (110-112°C) Syrup
Soft Ball 234-240°F (112-116°C) Fondant, Fudge & Pralines
Firm Ball 244-248°F (118-120°C) Caramels
Hard Ball 250-266°F (121-130°C) Divinity & Nougat
Soft Crack 270-290°F (132-143°C) Taffy
Hard Crack 300-310°F (149-154°C) Brittles, Lollipops & Hardtack
Caramel 320-350°F (160-177°C) Flan & Caramel Cages