Tag Archives: pasta

It’s “C” Day!

It’s also Dee Day because spring cleaning was done today. It took two ladies 3.5 hours each but was worth every penny. I took time out to groom the dog. She was in our bedroom when they left. Twenty minutes later she was lying in the living room. There was dog fur all over the hallway that was just mopped. Ah, well, it’ll be regular from now on.

So, C can be for Clean. Also, I made my regular lasagne recipe yesterday, my “10 Minute Lasagne” from this blog, probably with better sauce (bottled) and no-boil Canneloni, another C. My husband liked it so much better. I will have to get a pastry bag and some tips because the zip-top bag didn’t work very well and it took the two of us to make it go. He squeezed the bag. I held up the noodles until they were filled and placed them in the sauce.

And the kicker is that my husband rarely comes into the kitchen except to get water, ice or Dr. Pepper. A few years ago it was my idea for a community herb garden. Now people are actually using it, yea! I bring scissors once a week to keep the plants from bolting too soon.

Saturday I trimmed the plants and took a small sampling and buzzed them up with butter, salt and pepper. We made a wonderful steak (second is in the freezer for when he’s home next weekend) and baked potatoes and I had no sour cream, something I can do without but that he loves. I refrigerated one butter, froze the second in ramekins.

When he saw what I was putting on the potatoes, he said, oh, that’s a compound butter!  Excuse me, who is this man and what have you done with my husband???

To his credit he has wanted to learn pancakes (where I even whip egg whites for really light, fluffy ones) and hand-crank egg pasta. Nothing new recently. But when have you had a guy who doesn’t even know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich ask about compound butter? Yes, I think he’s spent nearly 15 years around me. Who else would lobby for a community herb garden?

He tells folks I’ve created a food snob. He used to eat individually wrapped string cheese and leave wrappers from his frig to computer. Now he opines on the age of cheddar. Compoundedly and confusedly yours, Dee

Carbs?

My husband has been working from home a bit, driving me nuts. He now wants to help me in the kitchen. I made spaetzle the other day for a stew. Permit me to say that my husband is not allowed in my kitchen for other than ice, water, or Dr. Pepper. He can’t even make a grilled cheese sandwich.

He gets into something like lemonade, yogurt, strange fruits and ice cream but this pasta/pancake thing needs to end.

We’ve made pancakes twice this week, today he didn’t help out at all as he didn’t say he was working on a mathematical spreadsheet for portions of the batter. He chose 3/4 recipe today before he did the calculations. His were pancake souflees. He asked me to use Italian OO flour instead of all-purpose as a test. It’s all-purpose from here on in. And I’d rather do eggs and bacon and toast and jam because it doesn’t use every pot and pan in the house and I can make it, while he is in the shower, in under ten minutes. With juice and herbal tea.

We made fettucine twice this week. He wanted to test the hand-crank pasta maker I’ve never used. Tonight it was to go with a random restaurant dish he had last year with pasta, chicken and artichoke hearts in a cream sauce with a salad with who knows what, 2,000 miles away. Talk about pulling something out of my hat. He did love it and has more for tomorrow. I will make rice. No, not from scratch!

Now he wants steak for Thanksgiving. Tomorrow we have another skirt steak with chimichurri for lunch, and today’s chicken with rice for dinner.

I’ll plan Thanksgiving in the morning and decide whether I’ll cave in to steak. I do want Brussels sprouts. Cranberry…. chutney? Perhaps. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving, Dee

 

Kitchen Terror!

I wasn’t feeling well Saturday and my husband decided he really wanted spaghetti and meatballs for dinner so went grocery shopping. He also brought home soup for me and a number of other items but that’s not the story.

In one hour, probably longer, he decided to bake store-bought (butcher counter fresh) meatballs and had me get up and turn on the oven prior to his arrival. He got an expensive bottled sauce and some pasta. I figured this non-cook could do it.

His hour was spent dirtying every pot, pan, dish in the house while he constantly asked questions about preparation. I could have made a marinara and meatballs at home and cooked pasta in half the time. At the end of this agonizing (for me) feat of culinary genius, with my husband cooking prepared foods here are the results.

The pasta was OK, but my pots and pans and especially my large pasta pot are at ground level and he’s very tall so he critiqued my placement of those items in MY kitchen that I placed 18 months ago. I’m a foot shorter than he so basically the arrangement is that he helps me get stuff off high shelves and I fetch from lower cupboards and  things under the sink. Plus, he doesn’t cook! And he brought me a limp piece of pasta and made me check it. I said OK and gave it to dog Zoe who was appreciative.

No-one could ruin the sauce. I just had him warm it in a small saucepan on low heat which included a ten minute conversation on how much sauce and demonstration from him of which saucepan to use. I was on the sofa under a blanket, not even wanting to smell food.

Then the meatballs. With surgical precision, he placed a piece of aluminum foil on the sheet pan, a huge sheet then tucked it in over all the edges for five minutes. I had him set timers because he is a true absent-minded professor. When he gets on a subject, there’s no reining him in. And he tells me frankly that he cannot multi-task. After many years together, I believe him.

Of course he overcooked the meatballs! They stuck to the tin foil and were the consistency of golf balls. Then he couldn’t find the Parmigiano Reggiano. He asked if cheddar was a good substitute. No, I got up from the sofa and found the parm on the cheese shelf, made sure he had a colander for the pasta and a bowl to eat it from, fork, napkins et al.

Later I found that not a single item had been rinsed, washed or placed in the dishwasher. I awakened to a disaster. In order to restore my kitchen, I spent an hour cleaning and putting away every dish before making him breakfast.

Admittedly, this was not the best environment in which to teach basics to a non-cook, who even has trouble with making a grilled cheese sandwich. And he does help when he can but it is better for me to be standing by him (as Tammy Wynette said, stand by your man) advising every step. He’s extremely bright and does remember lessons, even knows the difference between baking powder and baking soda because of me, referenced to Harold McGee for verification of the scientific principles (he’s educated as a physicist and engineer).

For the holidays I’m retaking my kitchen. It is his birthday today. He accidentally opened his birthday and Christmas gifts a few weeks ago because they arrived addressed to me and I had no idea the sender, and it turned out to be something I ordered for him a few months ago and I was there. They were shoes, he’s tough to fit and years ago we found a pair that works and the company has discontinued them so we bought out 2-3 pair at a local store and I asked HQ to comb the country to find more because his size is unique and they won’t be able to sell them. These casual Friday work-day and “dog walking” shoes will last him 8-10 years.

I will figure out a favorite dinner to make him this evening. No, it will not be spaghetti and meatballs. He’s really a steak and potatoes guy but I may roast a chicken. Who knows, I haven’t been shopping yet to see what’s great.

Today I make some special treats, mainly for gifts, so need to go to the grocery early to avoid crowds and get the best stuff. I’m hoping it doesn’t snow so my husband won’t steal my car again because I really don’t want to walk in snow with a cart. I’ll tell you later what they are. We wouldn’t want recipients to know in advance, and I’m still not certain of my final menu.

I’ve also taken on another dog. Only for a few walks, not taking over the bed or having to temporarily reorganize the open pantry because our last guest was three times our dog’s size, has hips and can smell crackers or a pie or whatever is in the pantry or on the counter. Ah, the holidays. And we thought it would be a serene time for us and the dog. We do miss family and one or two may visit sometime during the week. Cheers! All the best to you and yours, Dee

A Lusty Tomato Sauce

Cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry doesn’t have to be a chore. Over twelve hours later I smell the tomato sauce I made for dinner yesterday and have some pasta and sauce cold in the frig for lunch.

I started with Pagliacci tomato puree (like Leoncavallo’s opera) from our local Italian grocery. But first, I found one shallot and a couple cloves of garlic so minced them up and sauteed them in olive oil before adding the puree.

In the pantry were partial boxes of orechiette and campanelle so I cooked the sauce for a bit with a few peperoncini, my marinated olives and a bit of their oil then put the pasta on to cook. The dish was very intense and tasty.

I had to add several tablespoons of pasta water because the sauce was very thick and when I put the pasta in (9/10 done) it drank it up.

Future note: I’d probably pit the olives first, I love Kalamatas, so the marinade can soak in. For these olives I left the pits in, added garlic, thyme crushed red pepper and oregano then covered them with olive oil for a few weeks. I used the olive oil in the sauce and will save it for salads, so you won’t be wasting expensive olive oil. I generally buy my olives in very little brine at the olive bar at one of my favorite local groceries. You can get them bottled but they’ll cost you a fortune. I like to leave them on the counter completely covered by the marinade and they’re good after 48 hours, better after a week. Then they must be refrigerated, always completely covered in oil.

The finished dish had meaty olives, pungent tomatoes and can show what a good cook can do with a full pantry (read my Pantry Series) while cleaning out the refrigerator.

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It was a quiet but interesting weekend with an air show and impromptu party request.

Now it may be time to make limoncello as I found the pickle jar in which I made my first batch years ago. No, I’m not Italian just love the food and culture and am now of an age that I’m an old married lady and no-one’s going to mess with me as in telling me how to live or who to wed. Ciao, Dee

New Recipe

Yesterday I refreshed, and complicated, a recipe I used to make regularly years ago. It was vegetarian but I knew my husband would not be happy without a little meat so in the interest of home unity I added some.

Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, Goat Cheese and Pignoli

Pasta (I used linguini yesterday)

1 bunch broccoli, florets in bite-sized pieces, blanched three minutes, shocked in an ice water bath and thoroughly drained

1 chicken breast, pounded out and sliced into thin strips against the grain, bite-sized

4 oz. good goat cheese, kept cold for crumbling in at the last moment

handful of pine nuts, carefully toasted in a dry skillet and cooled

Put on the pasta water. In a large skillet with a little olive oil, saute the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper and remove. Saute the broccoli (s & p) and add the chicken. Add a bit of the pasta water (or stock), drain pasta and add. Stir. Crumble in the goat cheese, season to taste and add the pine nuts last.

The goat cheese melts a bit and makes a salty, tangy sauce and the pine nuts give a nice crunch (my husband didn’t like them). You might want to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the broccoli for some zing.

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This “summer” has been unseasonably cool but I would rather that than 100 degrees in the shade. I read yesterday that the NYC food show’s wares include a tea popsicle in different flavors, all for under 50 calories and without refined sugar.

In the old South, I’ve read that before refrigeration only the rich had ice. Only the rich had sugar. So who would entertain on the front porch with iced tea with sugar? You betcha. It became a tradition that endures today.

As a Northerner, sweet tea, which is molecularly different than tea with sugar or sweetener added to cold tea, is too much for me. I’ve accidentally ordered it in a couple of Southern restaurants. I don’t boil my tea and prefer my own herbal “sun tea” which is actually refrigerator tea without any sugar at all. That’s what my husband drinks at home. Back at his Southern home, he’ll sweeten his mother’s tea and they use more ice than any people I know! Yes, they are rich with love and understanding for the boy who married that Yankee and lives up north.

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I swear I bought Parmigiano Reggiano the other day at the store but can’t find it anywhere. The other day I was making my husband his favorite spaghetti and meatballs (all homemade except for the durum wheat pasta) and I asked him to pick up more cheese for me. He put the cheesemonger on the phone, who told me about a fantastic Parmesan that comes from Wisconsin and won several “best US cheese” awards so that was my choice. I have yet to taste it but will do so and research the company and let you know next time.

Hope your summer is going well and that you’re planning a festive 4th. My husband’s idea of July 4th is to ask me the night of July 2 whether I want to have a “big party” for the occasion. Two days in advance of an event that most people I know, ok old married folks, spend with their families with fireworks and sparklers and grilling. That means I plan the menu, shop, prep, cook, serve and clean up. My answer in one word, NO.

We’ve seen the best fireworks in the USA, the latest next door to Chevy’s Freedom Over Texas extravaganza. Pyro Paula runs those fireworks and our dog Zoe keeps in touch with her from time to time. I also love the fireworks back home sitting by a small lake watching the local fire company launch a small show.

Zoe, Jim and I will watch them from up high, probably leaning off the balcony if the pollen (him) and mosquitos (me) aren’t too much. We’ll have a simple dinner, perhaps my “Celebration Cole Slaw” and brats. The butcher let me know there’s a special sale coming up. It sure helps to know your butchers and cheese experts. Happy Independence Day! Dee

p.s. I created the Celebration Cole Slaw because our young nephew wouldn’t eat anything but one or two chicken nuggets. I just used red cabbage, grated carrots, a bit of scallion or chives (not too much for a kid) and a favorite dressing. Plus celery seed, of course. He loved it. I also made my mother’s baked beans, but I think the colors (nearly red, white and blue) attracted him to the slaw. D

Pasta Dinner

Last night I sauteed a bit of bulk sweet Italian sausage, steamed some broccoli and added it in with some cooked pasta and goat cheese. Salt and not much pepper, chili flakes and a little parm and it was a great meal. We had enough to share… ’nuff said. Dee

ps when I perfect this recipe I’ll give it to you. Unfortunately you are not at my home, eating my meals, otherwise you’ll know I cook on the fly with good instructions from French and Italian cooking schools. Once you learn the basics, you can fly.

pps Yes, I graduated!

ppps This is why I do not bake. And my husband is a physicist. Opposites attract.

Bolognese

I made a ton of it yesterday. Enough for 3-5 meals for the two of us. I started with onions and garlic and took out the meat, 1.5 lbs lean ground beef (turned on me) and five mild Italian sausage links that I took out of the casings and crumbled. I stopped everything and went and bought more ground beef. Two 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes, 2/3 of a 6 oz can of tomato paste, salt, pepper, peperoncino, oregano and basil went in.

You know by now that I’m not using my own pots and pans, only the 3-4 I bought for ourselves but I sauteed everything in a pan we bought, then had to move it to the pasta pan, which had so many hot spots I had to stir this sauce every couple of minutes on as low as a gas stove would go.

Jim was working on a long-term project all day yesterday and I was making sauce so we ordered pizza. Good pizza from down the path. So our sauce is in thirds: frig, out already; and two quart baggies in the freezer for lasagne or other dishes. The flavors should have melded by now and it’ll be a great dinner, fusilli with bolognese and parmigiano reggiano. I’ve organic baby greens and Tuscan ciabatta bread.

Now all we need is Jim. “We” meaning Zoe and I, had a productive day today, not as productive as we would have liked. Right now she needs dinner, out and one more outing before our bedtime. I need to make her that meal, make ours, take her out and have a few more items on my to-do list before Jim comes home.

We’ve been in UT less than two months and there was much snow and a lot of clouds. Lately the moon has been so bright it looks like morning in our bedroom. Now that the moon is waning when we look out at night it looks as if we’re in a planetarium, the stars are so bright. If I had my way, I’d come out here for a week’s visit at this very time of year.

Yes, I know there are more seasons to come. It’s very warm this afternoon but will probably go back to the 40’s at night. Jim insists on taking his severe weather coat to work every day. In Girl Scouts I endured the torture for four months before recanting my oath The leader not only failed me for my first badge, she had all the girls come over while she laughed at my work.

The point is that Jim was never a Boy Scout, he didn’t need to be. He lived on a working dairy farm where cows were milked twice a day, even on Christmas. He knew what to do if a bull came at him, or a snake. He freaks me out building hurricane kits for us but he’s right. I’ve never felt safer in a crisis than when I’m with my husband.

Enjoy your dinner. I know we’ll enjoy ours. Cheers. Dee