Saturday, February 27, 2010

Baked Rigatoni with Little Meatballs

I was not really in the mood to cook today, but I knew it would't be wise to suggest eating out as we had pizza last night and I feel guilty not cooking 2 days in a row. Livy is at a sleepover and Henry has his friend Callum over for a sleepover and I know pasta would satisfy them since that is pretty much what they would prefer to eat 7 days a week, Henry's faux palio diet aside. While perusing my google reader I came across this interesting tasty looking recipe from Smitten Kitchen. So when it was decided on pasta I remembered I had about 1/3 of a pound of ground beef left from hamburgers Thursday night and decided to make my own version of Rigatoni with Little Meatballs.

For the meatballs I used the ground beef and the tiniest egg I had and some leftover artichoke roast garlic bread soaked in milk along with a grated garlic clove (I grate garlic cloves on my microplane grater) and a few grates of parmigiano reggiano. Pinched off pieces and rolled and dusted with flour and browned in my cast iron skillet heated with olive oil to cover. I removed them from pan and swiped the pan with a paper towel to remove any burnt pieces.

I opened a can of San Marzano tomatoes and scooped out the tomatoes leaving the liquid behind. I put the tomatoes in a roasting pan and sprinkled with olive oil, S & P. Put in a slow oven (350) to intensify and concentrate the flavor.

I added the meatballs back to the skillet with some olive oil, grated garlic cloves. I added the remaining liquid from the can of tomatoes and simmered covered till almost dry. The tomato sauce will become very concentrated. Add the roasted tomatoes to the sauce and reduce any remaining runny liquid.

While your sauce is cooking boil a box of rigatoni pasta. Drain the pasta into a colander and make a simple bechamel in your pot: Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter and add 3 Tablespoons of flour and S& P. Stir and cook about 2 minutes without browning. Slowly add 2 1/4 cups of milk (I used half whole and half nonfat). Whisk vigorously while adding. Bring to a boil stirring. Sauce will thicken. Lower heat and let simmer a few minutes to cook the flour. Remove from heat and whisk in a shake or grate of nutmeg and about 3/4 cup grated parmagiano reggiano.

Put rigatoni in a baking pan with meatballs and sauce. Cover with Bechamel. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until browed.

Buon Appetito

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Meyer Lemon Bars

Meyer Lemon Bars just went in the oven. I found the recipe over here. I just checked out the blog for the first time yesterday. I found it through a link in my feeder called tastespotting that collects food pictures and links from all over the web and the world. Lots of interesting recipes and very pretty food photography. I recommend you check it out too. Don't look when your hungry!

Lemon Bars are out of the oven and cooled and we just tried them. Livy and I both agree that they are a little bitter. This recipe is different than most lemon bars. The directions have you put a cut up meyer lemon, skin and all, minus the seeds in the food processor and pulse till roughly chopped. This is what caused the bitterness. I should have tasted the skin and pith of the lemon before this step. Next time I will leave this step out and add some extra juice. They are still good enough to eat though!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pork Stew

My friend DAnny has been raising 2 berkshire pigs and feeding them on the spent grain from the local micro brewery. The pigs are probably about 600 pounds or more. Just after the New Year Danny slaughtered one pig. The day after slaughter he brought the primal cuts and everything else to my house for a day of sausage making, Headcheese and butchery. He also came with 3 very awesome friends, 2 from the Ukraine and one guy from indonesia. We had a long day of cooking and ended up with some very awesome chorizo,german style sausage, blood sausage and head cheese, cured and smoked hams and proscuitto style ham. We also portioned all the fresh meat into family size portions.

Today I am cooking the cut of pork that would be flank on a beef. It is very marbled piece of meat but a little tough. I chopped the meat into 1-2 inch cubes seasoned with grey salt and seared in olive oil in a very hot pan till very brown and caramelized. Then I added 1 course chopped onion, 5 crushed garlic cloves, 1 course chopped poblano chili and a deseeded serano, and 3 course chopped carrots. I deglazed with a little white wine then added about 2 cups water and a few shakes of oregano. Brought to a boil and simmered about 1 hour. Served over rice.

It was very good with a beautiful and tasty clear broth. The meat was dark and rich and the chile's add just a little sweet, mild heat. The kids loved it and since Henry has decided to go on a Palio diet he ate all his veggies and meat, no rice. Since he doesn't quite understand what he is doing and just wants to be like Dad, it didn't bother him that he followed up dinner with a bowl of cheerios and nutella on whole grain bread sandwich. I think he is having a growth spurt. He is very proud of himself today. He started going to bed on his own and reading himself to sleep. He started book 1 in the Bone Series last night, a graphic novel series, and he so proud that he read over 100 pages since he started. I guess it helps that he is suspended from school and has all the time in the world. Whatever, I am happy he is reading and proud of himself, it is just what the boy needs.

Happy to be communicating to you all again.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Missed You, braising beef, and making prepared horseradish

I'm sorry for not posting for such a long time. I've been cooking quite a bit since I last posted, but I was not able to blog. I think it was a mental thing. I actually purchased half a side of organic grass fed black angus beef from my neighbor in late November and I've made some beautiful braised dishes over the cold, wet winter.

At Christmas I received 2 new cookbooks; Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller and Sunday Suppers at Luque's by Suzanne Goin. They are both fantastic and I've used quite a few recipe ideas for my braises. One I especially loved was the Braised Short ribs from Sunday Suppers at Lucque's. The recipe used balsamic vinegar and a whole bottle of wine. It is served with mashed potatoes, horseradish cream and kale. I followed the recipe as written and it was perfect. For the horseradish cream, I used my own prepared horseradish which I made like this: Peel and clean 1 large horseradish root. The root is a very large hairy root. It is very "hot" so be prepared on inhaling that your eyes may tear. Yikes, but it is worth it. Cut the large peeled root into smaller pieces that you can grate in your food processor. Alternately grate by hand. Change to regular processer blade and process grated root with 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon sea salt. Transfer to glass jars and press down, add additional vinegar if necessary to cover.

Another braise I did was my own recipe that I threw together and it came out fantastic. I had a bone in chuck roast from my cow. It was huge, about 8 pounds, 3 inches think and 12 inches in length. I cut it in half and browned it in my le creuset one at a time till very nicely browned. Then I added 1 onion, julienned, 2 celery stalks chopped and about 4 large carrots chopped. I also threw in a very generous handful of peeled garlic cloves. I deglazed the whole thing with a full bottle of red wine and reduced by half, then added about 2 cups very rich beef stock (again made from my cow). I threw in a handful of thyme sprigs, a chile de arbol and covered the pot with foil and a lid. I cooked for 3-4 hours in a slow oven, about 300 degrees. Cooked until it broke easily apart with a fork. I served this with wide egg noodles. My intention was to cook this for my family and a friend's husband and kids while I went to knit night at my friend's. The message got crossed and friend's husband and kids ate before they came. Well, they had 2 dinners that night and my friend Linda really would like me to teach her to cook this for her man. He loved it.