cheese, pasta, quick and easy, spring vegetables

Pleasing Pasta

I don’t cook much pasta at home and, come to think of it, we don’t go out for much pasta either. Practically never. But, occasionally I’ll come across an interesting ingredient at Miccuci’s or recipe online that will inspire me enough to go beyond a red sauce. This one started with the pasta and evolved into an adjusted version of Tagilatelle with Baby Vegetables and Lemon-Parmesan Sauce from Bon Appetite.

  • 1 16-ounce package Malfadine pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 8 ounces frozen tiny green beans (3 cups), thawed
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for passing
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation

  • Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

  • Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and zucchini; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until zucchini is almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add beans and lemon peel. Toss 1 minute.

  • Scrape contents of skillet over pasta in pot. Add 1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese, cream, lemon juice, and 1 cup reserved cooking liquid. Place over medium-high heat and toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding more reserved pasta liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional cheese separately.

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420 food, baking while baked, holiday self medicating, medical marijuana

Medical Edibles

In the spirit of 4/20, and to coincide with the announced proposal from Rep. Diane Russell of Portland to decriminalize and tax marijuana in the state, here are a few smokey recipes. God knows, if a head can put weed in it, they will.

Butter: Everyone has their own variation–some cooking for >8 hours and some no more than 2. This is just one out there on the interwebs.

Makes 3 cups of pot butter.

Ingredients:

§ 3 ounces of trim

§ 2 pounds of butter

n.b. when you cook it you will probably lose a cup of butter, making your average-

1 cup of butter: 1 ounce of trim once cooked.

1- Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl for 4 minutes.

2- Add trim to a slow cooker and set on low heat.

3- Add melted butter to the slow cooker and stir.

4- Let it sit on low heat for a minimum of 6 hours, maximum 10, but keep in mind if you burn the butter, your treats will taste awful!

5- Using a strainer with tiny holes or a cheesecloth, filter out the trim.

6- Keep in the fridge for no more than one week or the butter will turn.

Rice Creeper Treats


3 tablespoons pot-butter*
1 (10 ounce) bag regular marshmallows
6 cups crisp rice cereal

Directions:
1)
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over low heat.
2) Add marshmallows and mix until completely melted and then remove from heat.
3) Immediately add the cereal and stir until coated.
4) Press the mixture into a greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.
6) Chill. Cut into 2-inch squares when cool.
7) “Enjoy my friends…enjoy.”

Rasta Pasta

12 oz Fettuccine
3/4 cup CannaButter
1 cup green peas
1 can button mushroom pieces
1 can portobello mushroom pieces
1 cup roasted red peppers
2 Clove chopped garlic
2 cups light cream (or 1/2&1/2)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt to taste

1-Cook Fettuccine (drain, cover set aside)
2-In a large skillet melt cannabutter over medium heat
3-Add garlic saute 1-2 minutes
4-Stir in 3/4 cup cream
5-stir constantly over medium heat 2-3 minutes
6-add fettuccine, red peppers and mushrooms to skillet
7-stir in remaining cream, cheese, pepper and salt

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charcutepalooza, charcuterie, mcguyver smoker, smoking at home, smoking meats, spicy smoked pork loin

Charcutepalooza: Smoke It.

I chose the wood first–a blend of local organic Maine fruit woods–before I had even figured out what I was going to use them in.

I don’t have a grill, a Green Egg, a tiny stove top smoker box or a gigantic Bradley smoker. Hell, I don’t even have a wok. I’ve never smoked a food product before now nor do I have a general fondness for smoked foods, even cheese(which all seem to remind me of bologna). So, when it was announced that the next round of Charcutepalooza would be: Hot Smoke, I was challenged on a few levels, most importantly not having a damn thing to smoke in.

I am a smoker of a different type, one that would choose the Grateful Dead from Lake Placid (10/17/83) as proper background music for these shenanigans. Catch my vibe? Now being from that school, where early on you learn to make a smoking device out of any and everything, the wok method was the most obvious choice(and the one that would cost me nothing to use).

The NYTimes guide had a set up like this:

And mine, opting for an on hand stock pot, looked like this when it was done:

Just imagine the above diagram wedged into this pot. It’s the exact same thing. The difference came in the wood chips, where Mrs. Wheelbarrow suggested using a saw dust powder for the smoke, I kind of missed that part and had a bag of wood shavings arrive at my door. Little details, right? This presented a challenge to me as the wood chips would not naturally smolder on their own so my only option was to check on the smoke every 10-15 minutes and relight the wood chips as needed.


My pork of choice for this month, because I had already brined and cooked some Canadian bacon, I opted for the spicy smoked pork loin and, toying around with the suggested recipe from Ruhlman’s Charcuterie book and threw together a rub that consisted of the following:

  • Toasted and ground Coriander
  • Ghost Pepper Salt
  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Cayenne Chile Powder
  • Ceylon Cinnamon
  • Kosher Salt

That was rubbed onto every inch of the 2# pork loin, wrapped in plastic wrap and left to sit for about 36 hours in the refrigerator. Then it was left, uncovered, for another 12 to develop pellicle to further enhance my chances of a nice smokey loin. Granted, it’s more of something needed for smoking fish but because I was going with the ghetto smoker, I was up for trying any tricks to make this work.

So, when the time came, the flames were lit, the loin placed and the pot was sealed and I sat, like a guard dog, watching for any escaping wisps of smoke and was silently praying that my apartment not fill up with a tremendous amount of smoke. And somehow it didn’t, though the constant relighting of the chips did manage to nearly blind me a few times with the thick smoke. But, an hour later, without a single smoke detector in the building going off, it was done.


And the results were a smokey success. Not only had the spice rub penetrated the meat and left a subtle sweet and spicy flavor but the fruit smoke, particularly the apple and maple, was prominent without being dense.


The meal, made of this gorgeous meat, was to be a spicy play on eggs benedict using a mustard cream sauce in place of the hollandaise. Sadly, though, something went awry in the pan and I lost the sauce(I’m blaming not cooking down the wine enough). Luckily, I had some beautiful Quadrello di Bufala on hand to stir into the eggs for a creamy texture.


The high fat cheese imparted a button mushroom flavor to the eggs as it melted down.

Served on top of some homemade biscuits, using From Away’s Buttermilk Biscuit recipe, opting for a sharper flavor of cheddar instead of brie, to cut through the smoke and earth of the other pieces of the dish.


Every bite was worth the effort and embarrassment that I endured, finding myself having to answer my landlord’s question(as I happen to run into him in the building while he was fixing a plumbing issue and I was making the upper floors smell like a Down East campfire) if there had been a small fire in the back hallway.


“No, I’m just making a pork loin,” I said, half truthful, as I snuck back up stairs and opened just a few more windows.

Smoke It on Punk Domestics
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bacon, burger-o-rama, foie gras, fun things with bacon, nosh, piggy angels

Burger-O-Rama pt3: Bars and Pubs


In the first round of this O-Rama series, I set my personal standard for a good burger: simple and well cooked, nothing fancy or over the top. But, when it came time for us to pick our selection for this months theme of “Bars and Pubs” I threw all of that out the window and had my sights set on one location: Nosh.

For one thing, I hadn’t been there in over a year and that was a visit full of mixed reviews and failed to leave an overall impression on either the Missus or myself. It was time to revisit the land where pig fairies(or angels, as it were, like the one in the header photo for this blog) sprinkle bacon dust on your thick cut french fries. And I had a Groupon.

So, the Missus, our friend Rory and myself made plans to have dinner there before we headed off to see humorist David Sedaris at the Merrill. At first, it didn’t bode well as we waited by the door for several minutes before being acknowledged. The Missus grew anxious and I chalked it up to the staff scrambling to organize a table of ten that was shuffling around the back of the restaurant. We were finally told it would be nearly a half an hour wait until a table would be free. We were seated in less than five. Bonus.

While we waited for Rory to arrive, the Missus ordered a Brooklyner Weiss, while I was happy to find a ginger beer on their menu.


Growing famished and enticed by the buckets of fries hitting the tables around us, we ordered our own bacon dusted bucket with a side of cheese sauce. The last time we had them the Missus complained that there wasn’t enough bacon flavor. She had the same complaint but I wholeheartedly disagree with her. The powder, very similar to the powder used in Sweet Marguerities Malted Bacon truffle from her Umami collection, is there to impart a smoke flavor to the fries and our bucket was loaded with it. The first time around, yes I did feel like it was skimped on but here I had no complaints. I found myself licking the powder off my fingers like I had been eating a bag of cheese curls except this was a hell of a lot more satisfying.

When our 3rd finally arrived, eager to eat and have a beer, we quickly ordered a few things to share. R., lost in the flurry of activity, asked what we were having and I ran down the selections:

Bacon Dusted French Fries(x2) see above.


Cured Salmon Crostini: house cured salmon, sweet onion relish and horseradish cream


Zucchini Bacon Hushpuppies: zucchini, smoked bacon fritters with a chipotle mayo.


Apocalypse Now Burger: pork and beef patty, American cheese, house made mayo, pork belly, bacon, foie gras and cherry jam on brioche.

We quieted down a bit as the food start arriving kitchen. I have to confess, there is something sadistically pleasurable about sitting down for dinner @ Nosh with a friend who literally weighs 100 lbs. From the second she sat down, and we demanded that she dive in to the bucket of french fries, to the last sip of her Long Trail Double Bag, Rory was in heaven.

For me, the salmon dish was ok and nothing more than that. It was a nice clean cure but the fish came off as pretty mild and would have benefited a bit more from an added dose of horseradish to the cream. The hushpuppies, however… They were honestly the best I’ve had outside of New Orleans. They, believe it or not, weren’t overloaded with bacon and this worked to their advantage. The inside, amazingly creamy, was a balance of slightly sweet and smoky; the outside shell was ever so crunchy without being over fried. The chipotle mayonnaise was the knockout punch to it, though. Just a bit smokier than the fritter, it also added both a level of acid and heat that really made the dish addictive. It also made for a mighty fine dipping sauce for the french fries. The downside: this was a special appetizer for the evening (though, and I’m talking to the Noshers that Be, I think this would kill as a regular item).

Another fun note about Rory is that she’s never had foie gras before. When she told us this, the Missus and I nearly squealed with joy–or from the over consumption of pork products. We’re still not sure. But, when the burger arrived, I stole a bit of the lobe, smeared it on a crostini, handed it her and watched her face. It could only go one of two ways, really, as foie isn’t an ingredient you can really be ambivalent about. And, when she finished chewing, she beamed. I repeat: There is something sadistically pleasurable about sitting down for dinner @ Nosh with a friend who literally weighs 100 lbs.

Satisfied, I cut the burger into threes and we dug in. Or, rather, they did and I sat there for a few seconds inspecting it. I mean, there it was, the Apocalypse Now Burger. The burger made famous on Man Vs. Food, which actually ordering it in the restaurant brings a preface from the waitress that he had the Quad-Apocalypse: a four horseman patty version and that if we wanted one similar to the burger that Adam Richman ate, we could add the additional patties at a cost. The single patty version sat in front of me and I hedged on eating it.

Was it because my brain(or at least the better working parts of it) knew that it was just way too over the top? It was everything I loved in an interpretation that my instincts told me I should hate. So, when I finally shut my brain off and just bit into the damn thing… well, I thought I heard those little piggy angels singing. I loved it. I loved the juiciness and the flavor of the ground pork in the patty, which was reminiscent of a garlicky Italian sausage, but the red meat was near impossible to pick out. The bacon and thick cut pork belly were crispy and fatty, though the foie and cherry jam was completely lost in the pile of pork. While I do love some foie, those livers need to be as fat as David Crosby’s to stand up to the other components of the burger, otherwise it just acts as a textural element instead of a flavor one. Luckily, all together, it reached beyond being a novelty and made for a pretty satisfying bite.

And what did our 100 lb wonder think of it? To quote her: ‘Favorite burger ever.’ I do believe they have a convert in Rory and, for us, it was a decadent and delicious burger, but I’d be more likely to go back for the fries and hushpuppies.

Nosh Kitchen Bar on Urbanspoon

Want to read about some other burgers, visit the O-Rama gang and their reviews here, here, here, here, here and here.

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baking, brunch everyday, caiola's, homemade, homemade pop tarts

Homemade Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Pop Tarts


It is absolutely no secret that I love Caiola’s Pop Tart. I have since passed that love on to friends, my sister and my mother. Now, because of the wonder and joy that is Chow.com–and their Make Your Own Pop Tart project–I’m making these bitches at home instead of enjoying them every few months on a rare Sunday off from work.

They are a bit labor intensive but they are worth every speck of flour you clean off of your counters.

TIME/SERVINGS

Total: 1 hr 20 mins, plus dough chilling time and tart cooling time
Active:
Makes: 6 pop tarts


INGREDIENTS
“For the dough: “
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks 8 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup milk not nonfat

“For the brown sugar–cinnamon filling:”
5 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
5 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

“To assemble the tarts:”
Flour, for rolling the dough
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

“For the glaze:”
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
4 teaspoons milk, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

For the dough:
1. Whisk the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl until combined. Add the butter and toss
with your fingers until well coated in the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your fingers,
cut the butter into the dry ingredients until reduced to pea-size pieces.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and milk in a small bowl until combined. Add the egg-milk mixture to the flour
mixture and mix with your hands until large clumps form. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface
and knead briefly, smearing the butter into the dough with the heel of your palm until the dough
completely comes together, about 1 minute.

3. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and shape into 2 (6-by-5-inch) rectangles. Wrap each tightlyin plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the filling.

For the brown sugar–cinnamon filling:
1. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until evenly combined; set aside.

To assemble the tarts:
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll 1 dough portion out into a rough 12-by-10-inch
rectangle, rotating the dough and reflouring the surface and rolling pin often to prevent the dough
from sticking. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, trim the dough to a 10-1/2-by-9-inch
rectangle. Cut that into 6 equal rectangles (each about 3 1/2 inches wide by 4 1/2 inches tall).
Using a flat spatula, transfer the rectangles to the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches
of space between each. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator.

3. Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl until evenly combined; set aside.

4. Roll out the second dough portion to the same dimensions as the first, trim, and cut into 6
rectangles. Using a fork, prick the dough all over.

5. Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator and brush a thin coating of the egg wash over each dough rectangle. Divide the brown sugar–cinnamon filling among the rectangles. Spread the filling into an even layer, leaving a 3/4-inch border.

6. Place the pricked rectangles on top of the brown sugar–cinnamon-covered rectangles. Press on the
edges to adhere, and push down gently on the filling to slightly flatten. Using a fork dipped in
flour, crimp the edges of the tarts. Bake until golden brown, about 23 to 25 minutes. Transfer to
a wire rack and let cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze:
1. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until evenly combined. (You may need to add
more milk by the 1/2 teaspoon if the glaze is too thick.)

2. Set the wire rack with the tarts on it over a baking sheet. Using a spoon, drizzle about 1
tablespoon of the glaze over each tart. Let set before eating, about 15 minutes.

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a reason to eat caramel, british candy review, british sweets, caramel anything, deep fried mars bars, mars bar

Bag of Limey Treats pt.3

Milky Way please meet your more mature doppelganger–the original Mars Bar. This chocolate bar, filled with my favorite sweet treat duo of caramel and nougat, was one that seemed vaguely familiar to me from convenience store shelves growing up. The bar I had seen, however, had the added dimension of almonds where this UK import was nutless. Not being one who grew up liking almonds or whole peanuts messing with my caramel or nougat, I leaned more towards things like Charleston Chew and 100 Grand, shunning Snickers and the US Mars bar(which would later be renamed Snickers with Almonds).

It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I had heard of the phenomenon that would propel the original Mars bar into it’s cult status and turn it into a staple of American fairways: battered and deep fried. First becoming popular in Scotland, it took several years before Americans would be snatching them up by the armful at county and state fairs. The deep fried candy bar would be the precursor to deep fried Twinkies, cheesecake, Oreos and even deep fried butter. God Bless Texas, huh?

While I did think, for a microsecond, about having this bar tempura battered and fried, I thought it best that this virginal Mars experience was best kept intact and unadorned. And while my munchies would have loved the added salt and oil leaving it as is was the best decision because, so far, it is the best of the bag.

The nougat is a bit darker, lighter and creamier than the one in the American Milky Way. The caramel, richer, more akin to a dulce de leche than any caramel filling I’ve had in an off the shelf chocolate bar. The milk chocolate, like the previous ones, was less sweet than their American counterparts and I find it funny that this bar was created to actually be a sweeter alternative to the US Milky Way bar.

Splitting the bar with the Missus left me pulling my half apart into tiny chunks so that I could savor every last morsel. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a simple candy bar as much as I enjoyed this one and, while novelty seems to have revived it’s popularity, to have it in any other form seems like a true waste of a simple pleasure.

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