8/31/2010

Grilled Ahi Tortelli Salad

This is definitely the weather for salads and cold soups.  Summer may be almost done for some of you, but in Hawaii, it is here in full force.  I don't want to even think about turning my oven on.  The perfect dinner salad is one where you open the refrigerator, take everything out, toss the contents together in a nice big bowl, and that is IT.  You have my permission to stand for long moments, with the fridge door open just enough to almost enclose yourself inside.

Start with your al dente noodles (tasty gluten free ones, by the way),  rinse, toss them with a bit of olive oil, and set aside to cool down.  Into the bowl go chunks of fabulous, grilled tuna, left from yesterday's meal, tender green beans, just lightly steamed, crispy slices of  cucumber, marinated slivers of paprika peppers, kalamata black olives, and lashings of romaine, all nicely coated with an olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinaigrette. 

Rice & Corn Tortelli is the pasta, and I highly recommend it.  Good flavor, cute shape, and everything "free", as you will notice.  Except for the package itself.  I did have to pay for that.

So, I am contributing my beat-the-heat, Ahi Tortelli Salad for our weekly Presto Pasta Nights get-together, currently hosted by our illustrious founder and maintainer, Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.  Check out the many tasty dishes there for meal inspiration.  I get tons of great ideas every week.

8/26/2010

Improv Lasagna

I'm definitely on a roll here, in the making my noodles department anyway.  Ha, ha, rolling pin joke.  For lasagna, it's fairly easy.  The pasta is larger squares and doesn't have to be super thin.  I did the Chef Laboa, Genoese version again, with a bit of white wine in the dough. The basic recipe adapted from Luigi Carnacina's Great Italian Cooking.  Still learning and hoping to improve on technique.
This Lasagna came about from what was calling to me from shelves in my fridge.  I had about a half quart of lovely meat ragu, left from making spaghetti, a container of mascarpone, a package of French, Valbreso Feta and some Parmesan Reggianito.  So, three cheeses, joining forces to pull an improv lasagna together.

8/23/2010

The Fruit that Grew Up

Finally off the little tree and into my kitchen, our long-awaited Citron Hand (sometimes known as a Buddha's Hand) was ready to use.  I have to say it was a bit disappointing though.  Perhaps, being the first fruit of the tree, and slightly stunted, was not very aromatic, just sitting on the counter.  The information I had dug up suggested that it would perfume an entire room.  Not this baby.  Oh well, the rind was good, and I used it in a few dishes, culminating in jars of Pineapple Marmalade.
I put the jar on the left more in the light, so you get a better idea of the color.  Basically, the recipe is just pineapples, chopped fine, the citron, minced - about 1/4 cupful, lemon juice and sugar.  Boiled it up til thick enough.  The citron hand is delicious in there.  Tangy and flavorful.  And the nice thing is, you can use all the rind, as the white pith is not bitter.
You may, or may not remember when I raved on and on about my new tree, with its one little baby fruit.  There were other starts, but they fell off rather quickly.  This one grew up to be a big (well a little size challenged) boy.  Just like a good mother, I took pictures along the way.  The tree (still a sapling) has been plagued by mites or aphids all year, but a treatment of neem oil seems to have taken care of it.

8/17/2010

Pesto with Pasta

 Just in case you, as I have a tendency to do, think shopping in your very favorite Natural Foods store is, or should be a foolproof experience, forget it already.  No one here is owning up to who actually bought the cheese in question.  It was either him or I.  But, in any case, shouldn't have been in that place at all.  Here are the rules (if you'll hang in there with my rant):

1. If it looks like orange processed cheese,
2. If it tastes like processed cheese,
3. It resists mold beautifully,
4. It will stay in a tidy little square when heated,
Guess what, it is processed cheese.  Duh. So much for that.  Do what you will with it.  Maybe you love processed cheese.  In that case, my apologies.

I have gone over these salient facts with the employees of said store, with a request for proper labeling.  This was labeled "Smoked Sharp Cheddar."  And, do you know what I was told?  No, you don't.  So, I'll tell you.  That cheese is our very best seller!  Yes, folks, true, which fact, you would scarcely believe from checking out the customers here.  Perhaps we're dealing with a throwback to childhoods in less enlightened times.  The flavors of mommy's kitchen?  Comfort food?  End of rant.

You have heard about a picture being worth a 1000 words, right?  Well, this little video says it all about the perfect Pesto and the perfect Pasta. Just watch Chef Paolo Laboa prepare both, you'll see what I mean.  So, that was my goal this week.  To do both, perfectly.

All that aside, this very (seemingly) simple pasta dish was quite lovely.  And, I made the pasta twice, improving on my technique and getting the dough thinner.  Next time will be even better, I'm sure.  It was not all that difficult.  There are good video instructions here on rolling the dough out, which the above mentioned chef neglects to completely show us.  Plus, I can see that this will make lasagna a more feasible operation in future  (for me anyway).  Look for it next week.

So, the first thing to do is to make your favorite Pesto.  Having a nice bunch of CSA kale, as well as a bunch of basil, I made a combination Kale Basil Pesto.

8/12/2010

Salmon Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

I have to say that I love, love, love ravioli.  Tempting little pockets, hiding delicious morsels inside them, swathed with a touch of simple brown butter and thyme, or coated in marinara.  So, here I go again.  This incarnation it is smoked salmon, preserved lemon and spring onion inside, with brown butter, thyme and white wine reduction for the finish, just to nicely coat them.

I found some smaller (3x3") won ton/ravioli wraps from the same folks who make the larger ones, NaSoya,   Pictured on my Lemon Feta Ravioli post.  So, less cutting is required. Use your round, 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter.  Or, you could just have slightly larger square or triangle shaped pasta. Yes, one day soon - perhaps next week - I will actually do that thing where you put a heap of flour on your counter, crack an egg into it and make the dough myself.  Until then, I am singing the praises of this little store bought item.  I tell you, by the time I finish with enough ravioli for just the two of us, plus the nice beets with greens and basil salad, then whipping up a sauce, it somehow seems like enough already.  Maybe it's my time of life.
This salad of cooked beets  with their greens, and bits of basil was such a beautiful contrast, accenting the pasta.  Thank you CSA folks.  I used a simple vinaigrette dressing on it.

8/10/2010

Hooray for Crumpets

I am now able to turn out proper crumpets.  What a thrill!  And, using Genevieve, my ancient (over 200 years and counting) natural yeast starter, this is a double thrill, as anyone maintaining a starter will realize.  It is a super way to use up that excess, continually being produced as a result of their prodigious appetites.  At least once a week, we feed our starters, giving away, using in recipes, or dumping the extra. 

Thanks here are due to Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini, who some months ago posted her recipe.  They turned out wonderfully, slightly crispy on the outside, tender and moist inside, with that tangy sourdough flavor.  I didn't need to change a thing.  So, I am recommending that you just try her recipe. Also, her suggestion to lift the ring off, flip and cook the other side, worked out well, as I am doing below, while the next one is cooking.
 If you are wanting to be frugal (as I was) and not buy more kitchen utensils, don't bother saving tuna cans.  They now make it impossible to remove both ends.  One end is rounded. Unless you live in an unrounded tuna tin country.   I did find a substitute however, which makes a slightly larger, more authentic sized crumpet.  Pick up, if you can find them, a couple cans of Stuffed Grape Leaves, vegetarian dolmas.  Save, wash and remove both ends, for perfect crumpet rings.
After cooling, pull apart or slice in half, toast your crumpets, and watch them soak up butter.  I'm having mine with slices of our lovely white pineapple.

P.S.  I had been laboring under the impression that English Muffins and Crumpets were synonomous, and hence the splitting instructions.  Next time I will use only 1/4 cup batter in each, and not bother flipping them, or splitting.  Clotilde has instructions here for English Muffins, using sourdough starter.  They are quite similar, though the muffin is a thicker individual.  And, the process MUCH more involved, as you will note.  In any case, they should never be sliced in half.  That, apparently is verbotin.  Pulling only is permitted.

8/03/2010

Still Crazy After All Those Years

One for every year!  45 was too many for any one of my vases, so I had to divide the bouquet between two.  So beautiful, and what a romantic gift.  On top of which, our grandkids made a sweet little anniversary cake for us.
Looks like they had fun with the colored icings, and there's Strawberry Guava filling inside.  In fact, I'm going to have a piece right now.  Happy Anniversary to us!