Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cookbook Recipe: Rigitoni al Forno

For Christmas Eve I made Nigella Lawson's Rigitoni al Forno, from her Feast cookbook. The cookbook itself is glorious, with Nigella's wonderful voice making it a great read. However, I found that many of her recipes turn out flat. I used her recipes for baked potatoes and yorkshire pudding for Christmas dinner, and we were all disappointed with them. Of course, I didn't have the required two cups of goose fat for the potatoes, so my substitution might have been a large part of the problem.

As for the rigitoni: since it was a recipe for 16 and we were only 5, I reduced the recipe, which wasn't hard. It originally called for 3 pounds of rigitoni and 3 pounds, 4 oz of ground beef, so I just reduced everything to 1/3-- one pound of rigitoni and one pound 1.5 oz of beef.

I did increase the amount of bechamel sauce from 1/3 to 2/3 of the recipe, due only to bad math. And in the end, it needed it!

This was the MEATIEST pasta dish ever. It was supposed to be a take on lasagna--but boy, it was saucy ground beef with some pasta noodles. In the end I had lots of meat leftover because I'd had to pick out all the pasta to serve it round.

Also, the recipe calls for cooking the meat sauce for two hours. If there were other meats in this ragu that would be called for, but I think 30-40 minutes is more than enough.

Finally, she mixes the rigitoni first with the bechamel to coat it, then adds the meat sauce. If you stir it too much it gets gray and looks like something the dog threw up.

In the end, this was a good concept that needs some tweaking to be a 100% success.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Leftover Turkey Soup

I really call this Stone Soup, because you use whatever you have in your house. But it makes a great turkey soup, and if you happen to have lots of meat leftover, it's a fantastic stew.

Stone Soup (Leftover Turkey Soup)

Two tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
One large yellow onion, chunked
Two large carrots, sliced (I like disks, but just keep it large however you do it)
Three ribs celery, chopped
Two to three cloves of garlic, minced
Turkey or chicken broth (I usually have more turkey broth leftover from the turkey than I can use, so I freeze it and use it for soup)
One bay leaf
Meaty turkey frame and leftover turkey
One large can of chopped tomatoes, with juice
If you have a potato or two that you want to use, dice them
One can white beans, slightly drained
A handful of frozen spinach (do you ever have a little bit left in a bag? Now's the time to use it as long as it's not freezer burnt)
A handful of pasta (any kind, though I like the bigger ones, like radiatore)
A cup of sliced cabbage

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot until shimmery. Add onions, carrots, and celery, and saute on medium about two minutes. Add the garlic and cook about one minute, or until fragrant. At this point, you can add any kind of raw veggies you like--cauliflower would be nice. I'd stay away from asparagus and bell peppers.

Add broth, bay leaf, and turkey, making sure your broth just covers the turkey frame. Don't add too much broth unless you like a thin soup, and too little--you just won't get all that leftover goodness.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a healthy simmer. Let cook for 20 minutes, then add tomatoes, and if you're using it, potato. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

Add the beans, spinach, cabbage and pasta. Simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring frequently so your pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

Taste for seasoning and thickness. Too thick? Add some more broth or tomato juice. Too thin? Let it simmer some more uncovered or add a tablespoon of ditalini or other small pasta. (Go easy with the pasta as it sucks up ALL the liquid it can.)

I like to add a little basil and rosemary, and lots of fresh black pepper.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My Adventures in Ice Cream

I haven't posted in eons due to a crazy work schedule and readying for Christmas. Now that that's over with and the in-law invasion has passed, it's time for me to get back on track. Sadly, I haven't cooked much in the past few weeks...but more on the cause of that in the future.

My big present for Chriistmas was a Cuisinart ice cream maker, with a bowl you freeze and then pour everything into and just leave be for 25-30 minutes.

For my first venture I set out to make chocolate ice cream. I had to go to two stores to find cream, but I found it. Safeway didn't have ANY because they didn't get their load today. Their shelves were bare all around the store.

I followed all the directions and found that after 30 minutes of mixing, the ice cream was really just cool cream. It hadn't thickened or frozen at all. I put it in an airtight container and have had it in the freezer for over an hour, and will see if anything happens.

I'll try it again after freezing the bowl for 24 hours. Any other tips for getting it to work?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

So I Like Warm Food

I realized from this weekend's experiment that I like my food cooked and warm in the winter. Heated through. Bio-chemically altered by heat. Mmmmmm. I like things that are processed, like bread and sauted onions.

I am *not* a raw foods girl.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Juiceboy's a Jerk

We started our raw food flush yesterday (well, he started yesterday, but I had a bean burrito from Taco Bell in the morning). We went to Safeway and purchased $80 worth of veggies and fruit, plus some raw sunflower seeds.

For dinner last night we had a good salad, which differed from our regular main-course salads in that there was no: cheese, egg, meat, crutons, or warmed corn. I made a dressing from honey, olive oil, and lemon & orange juice, plus added seasonings. I liked it but it had too much radishes and red onion for Juiceboy's taste.

I did fold somewhat last night and added V8 juice to my list of approved items--I was so sick of water.

All last night Juiceboy talked of ice cream, and this morning he's taunting me with descriptions of buttery pancakes, thick omlettes, and then he described a steak sandwich on a crisp sourdough roll. I nearly decked him.

And my favorite thing to do on the weekend is watch cooking shows, but there's no way I can do that and keep up with my very short, three-day experiment.

God. I have the worst willpower ever. I'm ready to fold after one meal.

Off to cut up Dulcina Watermellons.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Going Raw

Juiceboy and I are going to do a "Raw Foods Flush" for three days starting Friday...adding beans on Monday and seeing how we feel. Any suggestions? Recipes?

I eat so much meat, cheese, and dairy that I just always skip foods in their natural state. I really feel like I need to "reset."

As always, I'll be blogging it.