Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fettuccini with Chicken, Asparagus and Gorganzola

If you live in the Cleveland area, did you catch the gorgeous double rainbow Sunday night at 9 p.m.?
This weekend was just chock full of unpredictable weather. One minute sunny, the next tornado warnings, whipping winds and pelting hail.

A & J just had enough time to make it outside to spash in some puddles before the next storm made its way in (hence those omnious clouds in the background).

Another installment from Intercourses. A mighty tasty one, I might add. The book states that asparagus is an aphrodisiac mostly because of its suggestive shape, however, in googling the issue, apparantly, asparagus is very high in Vitamin E which supposedly boosts sex hormones. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, the dish was very good, and a little extra vitamin E never hurt anyone (as far as I know)

Asparagus, gorganzola, paramesan, shallot, butter, heavy cream, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, chicken and fettuccini. The only thing missing from this picture is fresh tarragon, which was in my herb container garden which was getting pelted by hail when I was prepping this dish. I decided to go ahead without it, and hope for a break in the weather so I could harvest some right before the final toss of the pasta.

Blanching the asparagus
Ssauteeing the chicken in the butter
Using the cream to deglaze the pan, with added shallot and nutmeg, to make a thick rich sauce.

Stir in the crumbled gorganzola until creamy. Then make a mad dash between the raindrops to gather my tarragon.

Then mixed everything into the cooked fettucini along with the asparagus and the parmesan
There isn't much I'd change in the dish, except, instead of stirring in the gorganzola until it melted, I would switch it with the parmesan. I'd let the parmesan melt through, and then toss in the gorganzola. I'm a real big fan of blue cheeses and the taste was a little too subtle for me, but really - it was so good.

Did it work as an aphrodisiac? Let's just say, Vitamin E may be one of my new best friends.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Strawberry Pasta

What? That's probably what you're saying when you saw the title of this post. That's certainly what my husband said. When I've described it to people, they sort of cringed. Actually when I saw the finished result of the pasta, I wondered just what it was that I was going to serve my family.

Now that I've talked it "up" sufficiently -- here it goes.
Spaghetti, cream, butter, fresh strawberries and fresh grated parmesan.

Puree and strain the strawberries.
Cook the pasta and mix with the grated cheese. Bring the butter and cream to a simmer. Pour the strained berries over the pasta, followed by the steaming butter cream mixture and toss.

What we had then was Pink Pasta.

It actually didn't look all that good. But the people at Intercourses were on to something, but fell a bit short. The first taste was surprising. Light, summery, fruity. The parmesan added just the right amount of zip. A & J really like it. A actually asked for 3 servings and J asked for a second serving (albeit very small servings, they aren't even 3 years old yet). Hubby took seconds. I stuck with my original serving.

During the entire dinner, I kept thinking of what would have made it better. The best I could come up with were these ideas:

Use angel hair pasta instead of spaghetti.

Instead of cream and butter, perhaps a cream or cream cheese and cottage cheese mixture. Something to make it creamier, yet still retain some texture to it (large curd cottage cheese, so it wouldn't all melt down in the heating.

Maybe adding some chopped strawberries to the final toss. I think that was the biggest problem. There was such a small hint of strawberry; it was a tease; you couldn't help but look for the strawberries.

I also thought, expanding upon my Hubby's comment that the pasta tasted like "dessert," that maybe you could actually create this dish with a small pasta like Farfellini or Cappelletti, cottage cheese, chopped up strawberries and maybe something else like kiwi or banana. It would definitely take some experimenting. I'm not sure I'm up for that, but anyone else is certainly welcome to try it and let me know their results. (hmmm -- guest blog?)

All in all - O.K. More of a surprise than a disappointment. Aphrodisiac qualities? No.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What a Delight -- Honey Almond Delight

Another installment from Intercourses. I loved it. Hubby liked it so much he took some to share with his co-workers at the hospital. A first.

Let me start, however, by asking, is there an easy way to slice almonds? Yes, I could have bought pre-sliced almonds, but at that price? Forget it. I ended up slicing 1 lb. of almonds the best I could, but many of them were just halved. If I tried for a thinner slice, they just sort of splintered or crumbled. And, I don't want to talk about what my index finger and thumb looked like after I was done wielding the knife... So here we go...

Yes, that is an entire pound of butter. Hence, it's deliciousness...

Also, 1 lb. sliced/halved almonds, almond extract, egg, sugar, brown sugar, honey, flour, heavy cream and salt.

The flour, egg, half of the white sugar, half the butter, salt, and almond extract combined to make a crust which was refrigerated for an hour and then blind baked for about 15 minutes. (a little longer than what the book recommends)

Then, simmer the remaining butter and sugars, honey, and cream ...

until it was all beautiful in its bubbly carmelly goodness.

Then mix it into the sliced almonds which was then spread out on top of the baked crust and then baked for another 15 minutes.

It does look like it would be a hard toffee-type mixture. But it wasn't.

After cooling for about 15 or 20 minutes it was still a warm gooey mixture. It was just right. Placed in an airtight container, and it still hasn't gotten hard. This recipe is a definite keeper. Perfect to take to someone's house as a gift. It makes a lot, too. It filled an entire cookie sheet. Cut into triangles, you get about 40 pieces.

Of course, there were issues. But not with the recipe. Just those little glitches that make it difficult to find time to cook. I started this recipe after a day of wandering around the Geauga County Antique Fest at the Fairgrounds. Found two cast iron business card holders, that, if you can believe it, I'm going to use as doorstops for A & J's bedrooms. When they get a little older, I envision them using the card slots to post notices to "keep out" or to write notes to each other. One has horses; the other has bears.

Well, we came home, and A & J would not take a nap -- which I had counted on. So they had to sit and watch Mommy cook. I strapped them in their boosters and gave them lunch.

Then when I started mixing the ingredients for the crust, I blew the circuit. But, after flipping the switch back in the box, I still couldn't get the outlet or the phone for that matter, to work, so I had to transfer everything from the center island to the still cluttered counter next to the oven. Of course, I had to go to the basement to check the circuit box, which promted A & J to ask to play in the basement, but I couldn't let them since I couldn't be down there with them. So we had a little tantrum. I was able to get them to settle down a bit once I got the crust in the fridge for that hour. While they built a castle in the living room, I was able to clean up phase one.

For phase two, the stove top session, the boys tried to be good. But ... they love to watch cooking. They constantly wanted to be picked up so they could watch what was simmering in the pot. Not too bad, but when they both cry to be picked up at the same time, sorry I just can't hold 55 pounds of children and stir a boiling concoction at the same time. So, into the boosters again with a bribe of an oreo cookie. Right into the chairs they went and I was able to finish the Delights and then turn around to discover that A had crushed his oreo as much as humanly possible. Not just crushed, pulverized and then sprinkled on the kitchen floor.

This photo doesn't do the mess justice. I had the boys on the floor with the dust pan and broom, but still, I had to clean that up, along with sticky carmelly bowls and all that other good stuff.

Like I've said before, I love to cook - I hate to clean up. Even when I think I'm done, I turn around and see everything else I haven't done yet.

Stay tuned for Strawberry Pasta!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Know Why I Don't Have Time To Cook

I hate cleaning up. Yes, we have a dishwasher. But I even hate doing dishes with that. Hubby doesn't load it correctly, so I always have to rearrange the dirty dishes that are already in there before I add to it. We both of us also hate emptying the dishwasher when it's done with its cycle. I hate hand washing. I hate drying.

I love to cook. I hate the clean up. Hubby and I tried, a few years ago, to alternate. If I cooked, he cleaned up, and vice versa - before we even had a dishwasher. Being the [smirk] gentleman he is ... he then accused me of using more dishes and utensils than I actually needed, just so he would have to wash more than was necessary. Obviously, this arrangement was short-lived.

I try to clean as I cook. Creating a mise before hand has helped quite a bit. Prepping and then cleaning before actually starting the cooking process does cut down on after dinner clean up, but still not quite enough.
Oh well, this is just me whining...
Stay tuned for Honey Almond Delights!

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Penne with Rosemary Cream Sauce

Another recipe from Intercourses. Penne with Rosemary Cream Sauce. Yes. It was good. No. I won't make it again -- not without some major rewriting. It was easy. That was a definite plus. It was filling and satisfying. But it could have been so much more.

This stage where I'm sauteing the rosemary in the olive oil was my favorite. I should have followed my gut instincts. It was fragrant and earthy. It filled the kitchen with a comforting aroma.

But then,

The tomato paste/puree. Too much. Too overpowering. Too tomato-ey.

I ended up adding more cream to the sauce to try to thin it out so that the sauce wouldn't have a paste consistency. I didn't have enough cream.

It plated well. In case you're wondering, that "thing" next to the pasta was chicken feta and spinach sausage grilled in the grill pan.

A and J liked it. J more so than A. Hubby said he liked it - going for two heaping servings. For me, the tomato was just too much. It overpowered the rosemary. It wasn't creamy enough. It coated the pasta too thickly. What I should have done was, if I were to put tomatoes in it at all, I would add some petite cut tomatoes at the last phase, just to add a little bite to the sauce. I would have focused more on rosemary by adding some minced garlic and whisking in some butter into the hot oil. Perhaps not even adding the cream. Making more of an olio e aglio sauce. Maybe just cut in some rosemary towards the end, instead of infusing the olive oil in the beginning.

Any aphrodisiac qualities? Again, no. I will not give up trying, though.

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