RSS Feed

Tag Archives: cooking

Shiitake Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Shells in a Coconut Pumpkin Sauce

Posted on

Hello All!

It’s finally cold enough in California to bake. The winter and fall have definitely been  mild and hot. Today it was a crisp 67 degrees outside. That’s right, this is what I have to call “crisp” weather. In any case, I took full advantage and decided to use up the tons of canned pumpkin I recently purchased from Trader Joe’s. I’ve seen similar recipes around, using the pumpkin as a creamy alternative to many sauces. I’ll be making spaghetti and pumpkin soon!

photo 1

Stuffed Shells in Pumpkin Sauce

  • approx 14 jumbo shells, already cooked and cooled
  • 6 oz of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, and caps chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese  (full fat please)
  • 1 1/2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of monterey jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with parchment paper or foil and lightly, and I do mean lightly oil. Add the butter and some oil (so the butter doesn’t brown or burn) to a skillet. Once the oil is heated through, add the mushrooms and let them brown, turning over maybe 3 times, for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, add the pumpkin and coconut milk to a 3 quart pan and set on medium-low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer.

photo 1

photo 2

Place the ricotta in a bowl, and add the mushrooms when they are ready. Do not set on a paper towel before adding, even if some butter gets in, that’s fine, this is cold weather, delicious, good, rib-sticking food we’re making. Take the sausage and with your fingers pull off small 1/4 inch pieces. Brown on medium heat for 6-7 minutes, turning once. If you like, you can de-glaze the pan once the meat has had a chance to brown with either Port, Vermouth, or Marsala wine.

photo 4

photo 5

Add the sausage to the ricotta and season again with salt and pepper. Add in 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.

Once the pumpkin-coconut milk sauce comes to a simmer add in some salt and pepper to taste, the cinnamon, paprika, garlic, and cornstarch. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Stir and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 3 minutes.

photo 3

Add a ladle of the pumpkin sauce to the bottom of the baking dish. Take a shell in your hand and with the other use a soup spoon to fill it with the ricotta stuffing. Layer evening into the pan. Cover with remaining sauce (be careful not to completely drench the shells; I recommend using a ladle to pour it over the shells) and sprinkle on the monterey jack cheese. At this point you can also add some bacon/ panchetta to crisp up on top, or more Parmesan cheese. Whatever you like!

Bake in the over for 20-22 min.

Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

photo 2

Lamb Bolognese

Posted on

Yesterday was my first time cooking with lamb. I decided to start small and go with ground lamb. I figured I could do a number of things with easy and versatile meat product. I thought about making meatloaf, meatballs, or a pasta sauce. Pasta always wins out for me. Always.

I started off making this more Italian, but the spices I continued to reach for made it more Middle Eastern. Maybe some Indian influence? Not really sure, but it sure did turn out amazing! By the looks of the ingredients this is obviously not a traditional bolognese sauce. But aside from the spices, it’s almost the same. I added in my own spices (as mentioned previously), and I subbed in the half-and-half for the whole milk you usually add.

photo 5

Lamb Bolognese

  •  1 small onion, minced
  • olive oil and butter (approx 1 tbsp each)
  • 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of paprika (or less, but I like the smokiness that it brings to meat)
  • 1-2 tsp of chili powder (depending on your tastes)
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp various dried herbs, such as oregano, thyme, sage, or rosemary
  • 1 can tomato sauce (14 oz ones)
  • 1 tbsp of raw sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp of molasses
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of half-and-half (depending on your sauce preference, more is less thick and creamy, I used 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Start off my heating a heavy bottomed pot (about 3 quarts). I recommend a cast iron, those typically work the best with sauces. Take out your meat from the fridge and allow to rest. This takes the chill out of the meat and ensures even cooking (I read that just this morning, and lucky that I had done it completely unaware of its benefits).

Add the oil and butter when the pot is nice and hot.

Add in the onions and allow to brown. Do not add in the salt at this stage. After five minutes or so (the onions should be nice and golden), add in the lamb with the spices. Coat everything in the butter-oil mixture. Make sure the meat gets a chance to brown; stir it infrequently, and break apart into smaller chunks. After about 10 minutes add the herbs and tomato sauce. Stir in the sugar and allow to melt in.

Add the molasses and the half and half.

photo 1

Simmer on medium-low for twenty minutes. Stir about every 8 minutes or so, just to ensure the meat is getting evenly coated in the tomato sauce. Taste at this point and determine if you need more salt, more pepper, or maybe even more sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

photo 2

Take off the heat when the sauce has thickened and is nice and fragrant. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Top with pasta of your choosing. I would recommend small shells, rotini, or any other twisted pasta to catch the sauce in.

When serving sprinkle more parmesan cheese.

photo 3

Asparagus and Potato Tart with Honey

Posted on

Who would have thought that honey would work so well with roasted asparagus, laying lusciously  on a bed of mashed buttermilk potatoes? I did not, but then inspiration struck, and boy am I glad that it did!

I’ve been looking through my french cookbooks, and sadly, while this is something that would come from a french cookbook it was inspired by Jamie Oliver. I believe the book I was looking at was At Home with Jamie, and I saw a photo (that’s all it took), with some white asparagus laying on a very velvety mound of mashed potatoes, encompassed in some puff pastry. I thought to myself, hell, I can do that, and so I did.

photo 2

Asparagus Tart with Potatoes and Honey

  • about 16 asparagus soldiers, trimmed of the tough stems
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes ( I added buttermilk when making mine, to make sure it was extra creamy)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • salt and pepper, to taste (If mashed potatoes are not seasoned)
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • parmesan cheese, approx 1/4 cup
  • clover honey, how much you use is to your taste, or omit

Season mashed potatoes with salt and pepper, or wait to season (if not already seasoned) till it’s laid out on the pastry sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and grease. Lay out the puff pastry sheet (store bought is perfectly fine). Score the sheet so you get a 1/2 inch border. Make sure you use a sharp knife but don’t cut all the way through the pastry sheet. you can also use a fork to prick the sheet in the  middle to ensure it doesn’t get puffy with the ingredients on it.

Dollop the mashed potatoes on the sheet, making sure not to go over the border line. Smooth it out to an even layer of potatoes all around the pastry sheet.

Add the asparagus, laying them gently and closely together to make a line across the potatoes. You can add these in any lines you like: vertical, horizontal, or even diagonally. I did mine horizontally, but I rotated from left to right so it so that every other spear touched the left or the right side of the border (to get asparagus in every bite, essentially).

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Make sure the pastry boarder is puffing but isn’t get golden. Turn up the temperature up to 400 degrees F and bake for another 5 minutes or so. Checking to make sure the edges don’t burn.

photo 3

Take out and let rest two minutes. Drizzle with honey (I used organic clover honey, but any honey flavor will work here. I expect avocado honey will be especially amazing here), then let sit for another 4-5 minutes to allow honey to get slightly absorbed. Cut into squares and serve.

Don't mind that shiny thing in the corner, that's my knife. I couldn't resist a bite!

Don’t mind that shiny thing in the corner, that’s my knife. I couldn’t resist a bite!

Warm Potato and Salmon Salad with Blue Cheese

Posted on

I haven’t been a salad person, but lately I’ve been finding myself almost eagerly awaiting lunch or dinner so I can create a hearty and delicious salad. I think wilted leaves and over salted dressings are the reason for my past dislike of salads, but anything you create at home will be better than what it was when you went out. That’s a guarantee. This guarantee has allowed me to be a salad person again. It feels great.

The idea for this salad came from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook. He has a similar dish, in which a large plate is lined with smoked salmon, and warm potatoes are laid out on top to be eaten after being dressed in oil, vinegar, spices, and dolloped with a horseradish sauce. Overall, the dish is amazing, and I did make it earlier this week. The smoked salmon and potatoes went so well together that I wanted to recreate the dish, but use more ingredients, specifically those I bought earlier in the week, and I knew I had to use.

This led me to a marvelous salad. Honestly, I’m quite proud. Not only was this salad super filling, but it was unbelievably healthy. I think the healthiest thing I’ve ever made.

photo 5

Warm Potato, Salmon and Blue Cheese Salad

  • fingerling potatoes, enough for one (I think I used about 6 for myself, and cut them in half)
  • approx 1 handful of micro greens of your choice (I used micro kale)
  • 2-3oz of smoked salmon
  • few sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • about 1 cup of baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 oz blue cheese of choice, cut up into bite sized, dollop-able pieces

Boil a pot of water for the potatoes. Salt the water and add the potatoes, if you cut them in half they will cook faster, about 9 minutes or so. Test with a knife to make sure they are done and soft all the way through.

photo 3

In a bowl add the micro greens and dill. Mix with your hands to make sure the dill is more or less evenly distributed. Using your hands, rip the salmon into bite-sized pieces and place on top of the greens.

In a separate bowl, add the oil, salt and pepper, garlic, and vinegar. This will be the bowl the warm potatoes will be added to.

Start prepping the tomatoes and add to the greens as the potatoes are cooking.

photo 4

photo 5

When the potatoes are done drain and let sit for about two minutes to make sure they aren’t scalding. Add to the vinegar and oil bowl and mix. Add them to the salad, making sure the oil and vinegar and garlic bits are all in the salad bowl. This will be a type of dressing. You don’t need much since the salmon is equally oily.

photo 1

photo 2

Attempt to mix together as quickly as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Dollop the blue cheese on top and enjoy!

photo 4

My Pasta Rosa

Posted on

I’ve been looking up recipes online and through pinterest for quite some time now. And something just dawned on me. I need to stop. I have maybe 20+ cookbooks that are just sitting in the bookcase, and they are screaming at me to be used. My last cookbook purchase was Nigella Lawson’s new book, Nigellissima. Almost every recipe that I open this cookbook to, is a keeper. The one that I’ve been eyeing the most is Nigella’s Pasta Rosa.

I didn’t quite have the ingredients for her version, but I will admit I was heavily influenced by her recipe when making my own.

photo 2

Pasta Rosa

  • 2 oz (or whatever single serving of pasta you prefer) of spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup small, cooked shrimp
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 tbsp creamy horseradish sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • milk, to texture (I used almond milk, but you can use coconut, whole or part fat milks)
  • 2 tbsp or so of fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of water on stove and heat to a rolling boil. Salt the water heavily, and add the pasta. Cook till al dente, about 8 minutes or so, depending on if you’re using thin or regular spaghetti.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Heat through, about 5 minutes or so, turning occasionally. Add creme fraiche, horseradish, and paprika to the pan. Let everything melt together, creating a sort of thick sauce. Add a little bit of milk to get the desired consistency you like.

photo 1

When the pasta is done use a pasta spoon or tongs to remove from the water, and allow to drain excess liquid while holding over the pot, very minimally. The starchy water helps the sauce adhere to the pasta.

Before serving sprinkle with parsley and parmesan. Serve immediately, and eat greedily.

On A Side Note

Posted on

Stuff has gone down in the last few months (well, more like last two months really). Not to go into details, let’s just say that a lot has changed in my life, and rather quickly. First off, work has me running around back and fourth, and although I’m flattered that I’m getting so much work, I’m also a little (a lot) bummed out that I won’t be getting much of a summer break. I’m scared I’ll be too burned out when LAUSD starts back up and I’ll be working 100% full capacity.

 

School is almost over (for the summer). I have one more class this coming Tuesday, and then I have a break for about three weeks before my next class. I know that my horrid oral exams are also coming up and I have not cracked a book to study due to personal reasons, and that alone is enough to keep me up at night. 

Due to the lack of time, and overall hot weather later, I haven’t been cooking, and instead relying on going out, or making quick pasta with canned sauce for sustenance. Long story short, I will be attempting cooking sometime this weekend, I hope, and perhaps you’ll see a lasagna, or ribs, or some sort of stew in your future. 

 

Till then!

Chicken Parm Meatballs

Posted on

I love ground chicken. I love ground turkey, too. Basically, I feel like the chicken has a slightly creamy texture when cooked with. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but beef seems too, basic. It’s almost like it’s drying. Which isn’t the case if it’s not in ground form. Obviously, I’m not talking about the super lean beef, but the ground chuck that you’re supposed to use for good flavor. Nope, I just can’t do it lately, I can’t cook with beef.

I suppose that’s good for me, in the long run, so it works out.

But I have to say, I’ve used ground chicken in pasta sauces, with lasagna, stuffed into peppers, and made chili with it. I’ve been working with ground turkey less than chicken, but today I’m returning to my old poultry friend in these delicious, and giant (!) meatballs.

From Dinner, A Love Story

photo 5

photo 2

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill or parsley
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino (or Parm)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • paprika to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or there abouts)
  • 1 14-ounce can store bought pizza sauce (or pasta sauce, I had pasta sauce so that’s what I used)
  • about 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly (I didn’t have that, so I used a shredded mozzarella blend, with a bit of cheddar mixed in)

Preheat oven to 400°F, setting rack to upper third part of oven.

In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together first 11 ingredients (everything up to the olive oil). Shape into lacrosse-ball size balls (that would be somewhere between golf and tennis) and place a few inches from each other on a foil-lined baking sheet.

photo 1

Brush oil on top of each meatball (I just drizzled it around them and on top so some oil got under the meatballs as well. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

photo 2

Remove meatballs from oven, spoon some sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of cheese. Broil another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Heat remaining sauce in a small saucepan.

photo 3

photo 4

Serve with some pasta or potatoes. I used some spaghetti squash, to keep it healthy.

These meatballs (if the same, large, tennis ball size) are about 128 calories each. Two is more than enough, especially with a side, for a meal.

photo 1