Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Broccoli Fritters

This week we got a produce box. It is a challenge for me because I am making an effort to use the produce in ways that both my husband and I will eat together--or at least try.  Today I decided to make these broccoli fritters from the Smitten Kitchen Blog.  Joey said that these were good because they were crunchy and crisp and flavorful. However, he felt that once you got through the crisp it was strange that the inside was broccoli--he wished for potatoes.

On the other hand, I loved this! I thought it was a great way to eat broccoli. It was easy to make, and they are really pretty! They also sort of remind me of Oscar the Grouch. If you are having an OtG party this is your food of choice!

Make sure that you mash the broccoli into small pieces, I had some big chunks that made a few of the fritters fall apart in the pan. I also realized mid-cooking that my fritters weren't all over the heat and so they were just sitting there soaking up the oil--whoops! Still delicious though!

Recipe Here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valtellina Pizzoccheri

When I was young my family spent two different occasions in Sils-Maria, Switzerland at the Hotel Privata. My sister and I only were there in the winter but my parents have returned several times.  Sils-Maria is this beautiful small town nestled in the Engadin valley of Switzerland. It was cold but crisp when we were there and the hotel provided us breakfast and dinner along with our room.  We got to know the owners pretty well and I raved about the food after our vacations were over.  I just loved everything but my favorite was always the pizzoccheri.  I begged for this dish to be on the menu when we were there and it was surprisingly there both times.

Pizzoccheri refers to buckwheat noodles. At the hotel, the owners made their own noodles from scratch and mixed them with whatever vegetables were available and a healthy dosage of cheese.  This Northern Italian comfort dish is not to be missed! Well, actually if you talk to my husband you could pass on it but I really like it. I love making my own noodles and mixing them with the cheese and vegetables and sage butter.  For those not fans of vegetables you could set aside some pasta and cheese and butter and heat that separately into a delicious and creamy mac & cheese.

Valtellina Pizzoccheri
Serves 8 as a main course

For the Buckwheat Noodles:
*I couldn't find buckwheat flour anywhere which was sort of sad so I made noodles with a few different flours but I still missed the buckwheat
100g all purpose flour
200g semonila flour
200g whole wheat flour
(or 300 g all purpose flour + 200g buckwheat flour)
2 eggs
pinch of salt
4-5oz water

In a bowl stir together flour, eggs and salt.  Add water a little at a time until the dough forms together in a firm dough ball. Let sit 2-3 hours in the bowl covered with plastic wrap.

Roll pasta dough out on a floured surface as thin as you can. Cut into long noodles about 1cm wide or the width of a metal skewer. Separate noodles and set them aside until ready to cook.

Other Ingredients:
1 lb potatoes, cubed
1/2 lb Swiss chard, cut into 1 inch pieces, stems cut into small pieces but separate
1/2 lb spinach
8 oz Fontina cheese, grated
4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz Mozzarella cheese, grated
black pepper
2 T butter
10 sage leaves
4 cloves garlic, sliced

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add salt and potatoes and boil about 7-8 minutes until fork tender.  Add Swiss chard stems in the last minute of cooking. Remove potatoes and stems to drain but don't dump the water!
2. Add Swiss chard and spinach leaves to a steamer basket and steam, covered 2-3 minutes over same water (turn down the temp when you put the lid on). Set aside
3. Bring water back to a boil and add pasta with some more salt.  Cook pasta 3-4 minutes until it resembles pasta.  If you are using buckwheat noodles this could take a little longer. If you are using dried buckwheat pasta this could take up to 17 minutes. Drain pasta, you are free to get rid of the water.
4. In a heavy bottomed skillet brown butter with sage and garlic about 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
5. Preheat the oven to 450
6. In a large casserole dish layer pasta, vegetables and cheese along with salt & pepper to taste.  Pour garlic/sage/butter mixture over the top.
7.  Bake 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and serve warm.   This is delicious with a simple salad on the side.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pasta Pie - Inverted Spaghetti & Meatballs

When I was reading through my regular blogroll a few weeks ago I read about this pasta pie.  Immediately, I thought of my friend Robin's fat parties and sent her the dish. She told me we should have it at our next game night, and so we did.

This is basically meatballs formed into a pie crust with pasta, cheese and sauce on top.  You could totally reduce the amount of cheese and my pie plate wasn't big enough to use all the meat--so I froze a couple of mini meatballs. You could even use turkey in place of the beef if you were so inclined.  You could use a different noodle but nothing too big, this size was good for presentation but harder to fork. If you use a big noodle then reduce the amount of pasta significantly.

This is actually very delicious, it was good with sauce on the side and without. It was good the next day and several days after.

I found this recipe on The Italian Dish. The only thing I did differently was to use less meat (and I used the rest to make meatballs) and less pasta (because my pie tin was obviously not as deep as hers). You might as well still make the amount she used and have leftover pasta (sooo good due to the cheese) and leftover meatballs (roll into balls, freeze on a baking sheet, transfer to a ziploc when frozen, defrost before using for soups, pasta, pizza or sandwiches.

The Recipe.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

TrueFood Kale Salad

Kale is the buzzword in Santa Monica. I feel like everywhere I turn someone is eating some kale or worse, drinking some kale!  It is like the superfood that trumps all superfoods. I'm not a huge fan of kale and prefer to hid it in soups than make it a star.  However, this salad is so delicious. This salad makes me crave more kale! I have now made it two weekends in a row, eaten all the remnants and dreamed of picking up more kale at the market to have it all week.

This salad comes from TrueFood Kitchen which is a restaurant in Santa Monica that you should visit if you are there and someone else is paying.

Kale Salad
4-6 cups kale, any variety or a mix! (I used a mix of three kinds and the purple one is pretty
3-4 T olive oil, I used Ojai Valley Lemon Olive Oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste
1 shake red pepper flakes
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese, it really is better if you grate your own here
optional toasted breadcrumbs for topping (I didn't use these)

1. Tear kale from hard inner stems. Soak leaves in a bowl of water, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
2. Remove leaves from water and place on a clean dish towel to dry. Roll dish towel and leaves into a burrito and set aside
3. Meanwhile, combine lemon, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper in a small pyrex. Whisk together until combined.
4. Toss dressing, cheese and kale together in a large bowl and serve.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chicken & Noodles

This afternoon my friends and I met to discuss "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree" and eat. Unfortunately, this book was all about not eating so I had to be creative with the food served but I wanted to keep it Pioneer-like.  I decided on a simple meal of Chicken & Noodles. Chicken & Noodles is something I have most had experience with in Indiana. Traditionally, the noodles are made from scratch and the whole thing is served over mashed potatoes and sometimes a biscuit. That seemed a little excessive...On the second day the broth is all soaked up by the noodles so it becomes more of a casserole than soup.  I served this the first day* so it was more of a dumpling soup.  Still delicious--mashed potatoes weren't missed.

*Technically I made the soup the day before but I didn't add the noodles (which soak up the broth) until the next day so it was still soupy.

Chicken Soup

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 box chicken stock (24 oz)
2 cans chicken broth
1 T herbs de Provence
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t turmeric
1 t salt
5 grinds black pepper
3 carrots, chopped or cut into coins
2 celery stalks cut into half moons
3 inner celery stalks with leaves chopped
1 batch dumpling noodles (recipe to follow)
1 1/2 C pasta water from making noodles

1. Place chicken pieces and all the spices in a large dutch oven and cover in stock--if chicken isn't all the way covered add some broth until it is covered.
2. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. (this is called poaching chicken)
3. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables
4. When chicken is cooked, remove chicken from broth and set aside.  Add vegetables to the pot and cook 10-15 minutes on medium
5. When chicken is cool enough to touch, shred with your hands or two forks
6. Add chicken back in and add broth if you think broth is low.  Heat 5 minutes then remove from heat and let cool and refrigerate overnight (unless you are having it today, then just turn off the heat until the pasta is ready).

Dumpling Noodles from here
2 1/2 C flour
2 eggs
1/2 C milk
1 t salt
1 T butter, melted

1. In a large bowl combine flour and salt.  In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk and butter. Whisk until just combined.
2. Pour egg mixture into a well in the middle of the flour and stir until just combined
3. Turn  out on a floured surface and knead 5 minutes until smooth
4. Place dough back in the bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Let sit 15 minutes
5. Turn out the dough onto floured surface and roll as thin as you can go--aim for 1/4 inch. If it starts springing back step away for a few minutes and come back and try again.
6. Use a pie crimper or knife or something to cut into long strips
7. Place cut noodles on a cooling rack and let sit while you boil the water
8. Boil water in a large pan. When water is boiling add 1 t +  of salt. Cook noodles 5 minutes until they taste like pasta.
9. Reserve 1 1/2 C pasta water. Drain noodles
10. Add noodles to the soup along with reserved pasta water and heat soup until warm. Serve today as soup and Serve tomorrow over mashed potatoes...if you dare.