Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pasta with Chicken and Mushroom Ragù

Very good pasta dish. I had no idea that putting mushrooms and garlic through the food processor before adding them to a dish would so pleasantly intensify their flavors so much, but I'm glad I've discovered this. I will definitely be adding this to my regular pasta rotation.

Pasta with Chicken and Mushroom Ragù
A variation on this recipe from Gourmet

6 ounces cremini mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon chopped rosemary
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
1/2 pound dried pappardelle (or other thicker long pasta)
5 ounces baby arugula (about 8 cups)

Pulse mushrooms and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add mushroom mixture, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.

Add vinegar and cook until evaporated. Add chicken and tomatoes (with juice), then simmer, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon and stirring occasionally, until sauce is just thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente.

Add arugula to sauce and stir until wilted. Stir in drained pasta and cook 1 minute.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Escarole and Orzo Soup with Turkey Parmesan Meatballs

Eh. This wasn't terribly exciting. It's not bad, but it just didn't have a lot of oomph. And it definitely needed some additional salt and pepper. If you have people who like blander soups, this is for them.

Escarole and Orzo Soup with Turkey Parmesan Meatballs
Courtesy of Bon Appétit

1 large egg
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
12 ounces lean ground turkey
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
3/4 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
4 cups coarsely chopped escarole (about 1/2 medium head)

Whisk egg and 2 tablespoons water in medium bowl to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs; let stand 5 minutes. Add turkey, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper; gently stir to blend. Using wet hands, shape turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on baking sheet; cover and chill 30 minutes.

Bring 8 cups chicken broth to boil in large pot. Add carrots and orzo; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered 8 minutes. Add turkey meatballs and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in chopped escarole and simmer until turkey meatballs, orzo, and escarole are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm over medium heat, thinning with more broth if desired.)

Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Baked Pumpkin Bread

I'm glad I can finally find canned pumpkin in the grocery store again. I'm planning on processing some fresh pumpkins and sticking a bunch of it in my freezer for over the winter when the canned pumpkin disappears. There are just too many tasty pumpkin recipe out there to miss out on it for so many months out of the year.

This bread is simple and tasty. The buttermilk really makes it moist.

Baked Pumpkin Bread
Courtesy of

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup solid pack pumpkin puree
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl. Mix in the pumpkin, brown sugar, buttermilk, egg and butter until well blended. Pour into a 9x5 inch loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Caramel Apple Cake

Here's an example of a baking failure on my part. I made this cake as part of my brother-in-law's birthday dinner. It was a bit on the labor-intensive side and, as it turned out, not worth the trouble.

Starting out, I didn't end up having a pan that was big enough for the ingredients, so while it was baking, it totally overflowed. Thankfully, I had had the presence of mind to put a baking sheet underneath the cake pan so that it didn't mess up the bottom of my brand-new oven. It was interesting trying to get the cake pan off the baking sheet though. We had lots of tasty crunchier portions to snack on before dinner (you can see them on the white plate in the picture below).

The portion of the recipe that calls for putting the cake pan in a water bath to loosen the caramel enough to get the cake out of the pan was a bit of a disaster. I couldn't very easily get the very hot pan out of the water bath, so some of the edges of the cake got a little wet. Then came the best part... When I went to turn out the cake, a whole chunk of it fell apart altogether, oozing apples and caramel all over my counter (I cleaned that part up before taking the picture since I had to finish dinner). I think I just left the pan in the water bath too long and liquified the caramel too much.

After all that, the cake didn't even taste that great. While the cake itself of okay, the caramel you're supposed to pour on top of the finished cake was very similar to the caramel you get on a caramel apple (hence the recipe's name), so it was extremely sticky. Which really isn't my thing. So I won't be doing this again. There are plenty of other tastier cakes that I've made and want to try.

So it wasn't worth the trouble and made a giant mess. Cake fail. But I'll add the recipe anyway just in case any of you want to give it a shot.

Caramel Apple Cake
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


For the Caramel and Apples:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3 cups sugar
5 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
4 large Golden Delicious apples (1 3/4 to 2 pounds)

For the Batter:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs

Butter a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan. Make the caramel: Cook the sugar and corn syrup in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is dark amber, 7 to 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the cream and 4 tablespoons butter (it will splatter) and cook, stirring, until combined, about 3 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and let sit 1 minute. Pour 1 1/2 cups caramel into a glass measuring cup and set aside. Pour the remaining caramel into the prepared pan and set aside until set, about 30 minutes.

Cut 3 apples into quarters and cut out the cores with a paring knife. Arrange the pieces skin-side down in the pan (overlapping them slightly) to form a ring about 1/2 inch from the edge. Save any pieces that do not fit for later.

Halve the remaining whole apple crosswise. Scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or measuring spoon, leaving the stem on the top half. Chop the bottom and any of the leftover quartered apples into pieces; set aside.

Arrange the apple top, stem-side down, in the center of the pan. If the quartered apples shift, just push them back into place.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, orange juice and vanilla.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Slip them into the mixer bowl, one at a time, and beat until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 5 more minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula.

With the mixer on low speed, add half of the sour cream mixture, then half of the flour mixture. Repeat. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula; finish combining the batter by hand.

Spread the batter over the apples in the pan. Top with the chopped apple. Bake on the middle oven rack until the cake is brown on top and springs back when pressed, 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes (don't worry if the top is dark). Cool in the pan on a rack.

Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a skillet wide enough to hold the cake pan. Carefully run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan several times, then rest the pan in the water to soften the caramel, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and dry.

Invert a plate on top of the cake, then flip over the cake and plate. Using pot holders or a towel, wriggle the pan off. Soften the reserved 1 1/2 cups caramel in the microwave, about 2 minutes. Drizzle the cake with some of the caramel. Slice and serve with the rest.

Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls

I made this for my brother-in-law's birthday dinner, and it was a great hit. It isn't the best butternut squash soup I've ever made, but the presentation is awesome. And the suggested toppings really make the soup taste better and more complex and the serving of the soup more interesting and interactive.

Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


For the Bowls:
4 small baking pumpkins (such as hooligan or sugar pie), acorn squash or sweet dumpling squash
2 teaspoons sugar
Kosher salt

For the Soup:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, chopped
Kosher salt
2 sprigs thyme
1 medium butternut or kuri squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
Freshly ground pepper

For the Toppings:
Pepitas (hulled green pumpkin seeds)
Sourdough and/or pumpernickel croutons
Paprika, chili powder or Spanish pimenton
Crisp prosciutto, serrano ham or bacon
Fried onions
Fried sage or parsley leaves

Make the bowls: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use a paring knife to cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin (make a zigzag cut, if desired). Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Sprinkle the inside of each with 1/2 teaspoon each sugar and salt. Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet; roast until tender, 20 to 35 minutes, depending on their size.

Meanwhile, make the soup: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Strip the thyme leaves into the pot, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and sugar and cook, stirring, until glazed, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the squash is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender, crack the lid to let steam escape and puree until smooth; return to the saucepan (or puree directly in the pan with an immersion blender). Stir in the heavy cream, if desired. Season with salt and pepper, and top as desired.

Oatmeal Scotchies

These are some of Jonathan's favorites cookies. His mom used to make them when he was a kid, and when he got to college, he called her to ask her if he could have her famous butterscotch chip cookie recipe... To which she replied that she had gotten it from the back of the Nestlé butterscotch morsels package. They know what they're doing over there at Nestlé because these cookies rock. As one of Jonathan's co-worker so appropriately described, they taste like a holiday in your mouth.

Oatmeal Scotchies
Courtesy of Nestlé Toll House


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) Nestlé® Toll House® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Pan cookie variation:
Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

Slow-Cooker Squash Stew

Delicious. The sautéed onions and garlic with the tomato paste really give it such a wonderful base. I also added a little herbes de provence to pump up the flavors a bit, and I think that really gave it a little something extra.

Slow-Cooker Squash Stew
A variation on this recipe from Food Network Magazine


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, rinsed
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and roughly chopped
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind, plus grated Parmesan for topping (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Crusty bread and/or lemon wedges, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup water, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a 6-quart slow cooker.

Add the chickpeas, squash, chard stems (not the leaves), the Parmesan rind, if using, 2 teaspoons salt and 7 cups water to the slow cooker. Stir, then cover and cook on low, 8 hours.

Just before serving, lift the lid and stir in the chard leaves; cover and continue cooking 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to slightly break up the squash. Discard the Parmesan rind, if used. Ladle the stew into bowls; top with the grated Parmesan, if desired, and serve with bread and/or lemon wedges.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Banana-Raisin Muffins

My experimentation with my new oven range continues... And these muffins were extremely successful. They're hearty but not dense. Sweet but not overpoweringly so. Jonathan told me last night after he was pretty much making love to his muffin that these are his favorites.

The original recipe is actually for a loaf of bread, but I wanted to be able to take some over to my in-laws' house to continue sharing in the fruits of their gift, so I figured muffins were more easily divvied up. The recipe also called for dried apricots, but I thought I'd use one of their substitution suggestions (golden raisins). I'd definitely like to try the recipe again with different dried fruit.

Banana-Raisin Muffins
A variation on this recipe from Real Simple


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
2 large, very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a muffin pan with vegetable cooking spray or line with muffin cups.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like coarse crumbs. Mix in the pecans and apricots. Stir in the bananas, buttermilk, and eggs until well blended.

Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to pour into muffin pan. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack.

Variations: Substitute 1/2 cup flaked coconut or any dried fruit (such as golden or brown raisins or dates) for the dried apricots.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups

My in-laws were so very generous and got me a brand new GE Double Oven Range for an early anniversary/Christmas present for this year. Here is a picture of me hugging my new toy:


I've named him General Bertram "Bert" Electric, and I love him.

Of course, I had to make my in-laws dinner using my nifty new present, so I tried out these chicken lettuce cups. If you like P.F. Chang's chicken lettuce wraps, you'll love these. I may have actually liked these better...

Making these were a little bit like trying out my new range through trial by fire... pretty much literally. The entire recipe is cooked on high heat, and I really had no idea how NOT hot my old range was. I think it was a successful dish, no matter how caught off-guard I first felt with my newly-acquired stove-top heat.

Totally forgot to take a picture this time around, but I will definitely be making this again at some point and will get a picture then.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups
Courtesy of Guy Fieri

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (Asian chili sauce)
1 tablespoon plum sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

For the Cups:
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, diced
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced sugar snap peas
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 teaspoon minced peeled ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup mung bean sprouts, halved
1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps
2 tablespoons diced scallions
1 tablespoon crushed peanuts
6 wonton wrappers
Kosher salt
Iceberg lettuce leaves, for serving
1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds

Make the sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Stir again just before using.

Prepare the cups: Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, bell pepper, peas and red onion and stir-fry about 3 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, sprouts and shiitakes. Add 1/4 cup of the prepared sauce and cook until thickened, about 30 seconds, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer the stir-fry to a bowl; top with the scallions and peanuts.

Wipe out the skillet. Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons canola oil over high heat. Fry the wontons until golden and crisp, about 15 seconds per side. Transfer to paper towels and season with salt.

Fill the lettuce leaves with the stir-fry. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Crumble the wontons on top or serve alongside. Serve with the remaining sauce.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rich Autumn Pork Stew with Beer

All sorts of autumn flavors, but for some reason, for me, it just didn't really work. It felt like it was lacking some depth of flavor or something. And the pork smelled so good while it was cooking and seemed to lose the flavor I thought it would have when it was put into the stew. I think I'm just generally not a huge fan of meat stews though. I remember thinking the same thing ever time I've had beef stew. It always tasted fine but not nearly as good as it had smelled while cooking.

Rich Autumn Pork Stew with Beer
Courtesy of PARADE


2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut in 1 1/2-inch bits
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
2 medium apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 cup diced canned or fresh tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth (bouillon)
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Cooked buttered egg noodles

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Brown the pork well in batches. Remove to a bowl.

Wipe casserole clean and heat the remaining oil over low heat. Add onions, carrots, and apples. Stir until softened, 10 minutes, adding the garlic in the last 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients except noodles. Return pork and any juices to the casserole.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring, until the meat is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaf; adjust seasonings. Serve over egg noodles in shallow bowls.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Southwestern Shepherd's Pie

A fun twist on a classic. The only change I made to the recipe was that I used ground turkey instead of ground beef.

Southwestern Shepherd's Pie
A variation on this recipe from PARADE


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped green jalapeño
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup cooked corn
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño; cook for 2 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high; add beef and brown for 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste and spices; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; simmer until liquid reduces, 15 minutes. Add corn, beans, and 4 tablespoons cilantro. Spoon into a 9x9-inch baking dish.

Place sweet potatoes in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain; mash with butter and milk. Spread mash over the meat mixture. Bake in a 400°F oven until brown, 30 minutes. Garnish with more cilantro.

Maple-Brined Pork Roast with Apples, Onions, and Mustard Breadcrumbs

I gave my father-in-law a selection for his birthday dinner, and this is what he chose. And what a fabulous choice it was! It was delicious and autumnal. The combination of the onions, celery, and apples alone smelled like Thanksgiving.

I wasn't able to find the exact cut of pork that is requested for the recipe, but a pork shoulder seemed to work fine. And I can't say enough about these food storage containers. I originally got them to make bread dough, but I've ended up using them to brine several things at this point. They're so much more manageable than using plastic bags or trying to fit my giant stockpot in my fridge.

I also have to stress how important the mustard breadcrumbs are for the dish. It really seems to complete it. It would be tasty otherwise, but that little crunch on top of the pork makes it even better.

Maple-Brined Pork Roast with Apples, Onions, and Mustard Breadcrumbs
Courtesy of Bon Appétit


2 cups water
1/3 cup coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
4 unpeeled garlic cloves, smashed
3 large fresh sage sprigs
2 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups ice water
1 5-to 5 1/2-pound bone-in pork loin rib roast, chine bone removed

Vegetables and breadcrumbs:
1 1/2 pounds tart crisp apples (such as Granny Smith), cored, cut into 1-inch-wide wedges
3 cups coarsely chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Coarse kosher salt
2 1/4 cups apple cider
1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (from crustless French bread coarsely ground in processor)

For brine:
Stir 2 cups water and 1/3 cup coarse salt in medium saucepan over medium heat until salt dissolves. Remove from heat. Add maple syrup, garlic, sage, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Add 2 cups ice water; cool brine to room temperature. Place roast in large resealable freezer bag; place bag in large pot. Pour brine into bag with roast; seal bag. Place in refrigerator and brine pork overnight.

Remove pork from brine; discard brine. Let pork stand 1 hour at room temperature.

For vegetables and breadcrumbs:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place first 4 ingredients on heavy 18x12x1-inch rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper; toss to coat. Push mixture to sides of sheet, making room for roast in center.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Pat pork dry. Place roast, fat side down, in skillet and cook until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer roast, browned side up, to center of baking sheet with apple-onion mixture.

Add apple cider to drippings in skillet. Boil cider until reduced to 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Pour reduced cider over apple-onion mixture. Mix maple syrup and 11/2 tablespoons mustard in small bowl for glaze. Brush half of glaze over browned side of pork.

Roast pork until instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 140°F, brushing every 45 minutes with remaining glaze, about 2 hours total. Transfer pork to work surface and let rest 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir melted butter and remaining 1 tablespoon mustard in medium bowl. Add breadcrumbs; toss to coat. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Spread out on small rimmed baking sheet. Increase oven temperature to 375°F.

Bake breadcrumbs until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Cut pork into scant 1/2-inch-thick slices off bone. Divide among plates. Using slotted spoon, divide apple-onion mixture among plates. Pour juices from baking sheet into small pitcher. Sprinkle mustard breadcrumbs over pork and serve, passing juices alongside.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage and Escarole

The weather is slowly starting to get cooler, so I had to make some soup. I'm falling more and more in love with lentil soup as time goes on. I love how hearty and tasty it is. And it pairs beautifully with sausage. Enjoy this as Fall approaches!

Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage and Escarole
Courtesy of Gourmet


1 2/3 cups lentils (11 ounces), rinsed well
5 cups water
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 pound escarole, chopped (4 cups packed)
1 to 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Simmer lentils, water, broth, bay leaf, and half of garlic in a 4-quart pot, uncovered, 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a wide heavy 5- to 6-quart pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown sausage, about 7 minutes. Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, carrots, celery, remaining garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add sausage and lentils with cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in escarole and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Peach Ice Cream Pie with Amaretti Cookie Crust

What a lovely way to say good-bye to summer. Fresh August peaches really can't be beat, and when you put them in an ice cream pie, they're just about perfect.

I'm not sure the proportions were exactly correct since I had a lot of leftover "pie filling". Then again, I used my vanilla ice cream recipe for 7 out of the 9 cups of vanilla ice cream called for, so I'm not sure if that threw anything off. I'm going to write down the original recipe and maybe just not add the extra store-bought ice cream next time, and we'll see what happens...

I also wanted to note that I used a coffee grinder to mash up the amaretti cookies. My food processor is pretty lame, so I knew I wouldn't have been able to get a fine crush on them that way, but I figure anyone with a non-lame food processor would have an easier time of it.

I should also note that saying that this pie serves 8-10 is assuming that you're serving Hagrid and his friends. I happily served this so that it would serve 16, and no one complained. And woohoo, more leftovers.

Peach Ice Cream Pie with Amaretti Cookie Crust
Courtesy of Bon Appétit


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/3 cups finely ground amaretti cookies (Italian macaroons) plus 1/2 cup coarsely crushed cookies
1 tablespoon sugar
2 pinches of salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 pounds firm but ripe peaches, halved, pitted, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges
1 cup (packed) plus 1 tablespoon golden brown sugar, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/4 quarts vanilla ice cream (9 cups)
2/3 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 9-inch glass pie dish with nonstick spray. Mix finely ground cookie crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, and pinch of salt in medium bowl. Add lukewarm melted butter; mix to blend. Press crumbs onto bottom and up sides of dish. Bake until golden around edges, about 10 minutes. Cool completely in dish on rack.

Preheat broiler. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Coat with nonstick spray. Arrange peaches in even layer on sheet. Broil until beginning to brown, watching closely to avoid burning, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle 1/4 cup brown sugar over peaches. Broil until sugar melts and caramelizes, rotating sheet for even cooking, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer peaches and juices to bowl (leave any burned parts behind). Add 3/4 cup brown sugar, lemon juice, and pinch of salt to peaches; stir until sugar dissolves. Cover; chill until cold, about 2 hours.

Slightly soften ice cream in microwave on low power in 20-second intervals. Transfer to large bowl. Add broiled-peach mixture. Fold to incorporate peaches (peaches will break apart). Spoon about 2/3 of ice cream into cooled crust; smooth top. Cover and freeze pie and remaining peach ice cream separately until firm, about 4 hours. Using medium-size ice cream scoop, scoop remaining ice cream in bowl in level coops and arrange in concentric circles top pie. Freeze pie. DO AHEAD: Can be made days ahead. Cover and keep frozen.

Using electric mixer, beat cream and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar in medium bowl until peaks form. Sprinkle coarsely crushed amaretti cookies over pie. Cut into wedges and serve with dollop of brown sugar whipped cream.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

I've been eying this recipe for a long time since I've seen Ina Garten make it on her show at least a dozen times. And wow, is it awesome.

As usual though, I feel like the people on Food Network who like to make mac and cheese (I'm talking to you too, Rachael Ray) think that people just don't like to actually be able to taste anything but cheese when eating this dish. So, also as usual, I had to cut the cheese sauce by half when actually serving it, so I'm adjusting the recipe accordingly. If you're a cheese fanatic, have at it and go with the original. Even though it's not my preference, I'm sure it'll be quite tasty.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese
A variation on this recipe by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)


1 pound thick-sliced bacon
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
3 cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
4 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
6 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Heat a large pot of water. Add salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a large pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked pasta and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 8 greased ramekins or greased 9x13 baking dish.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on the top.