Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rosemary-Lemon White Bean Dip

One of the perks of working at a cooking school is getting free food once in a while. Usually it's already been cooked by the chef students, but yesterday there were white beans leftover from a class (that couldn't be put back because they were already soaked). So when someone offered to give them to me, I made this dip. It's simple, but the lemon zest and rosemary make it anything but boring.

Yield: 2 cups

2 cups cooked* white beans (such as cannellini), drained but moist
1 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
grated zest of 2 lemons

1.      Put the beans in the container of a food processor with 1 clove garlic and a healthy pinch of salt. Turn the machine on, and add the 1/4 cup olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube; process until the mixture is smooth. Taste, and add more garlic if you like; then, puree the mixture again.
2.      Place the mixture in a bowl, and use a wooden spoon to beat in the rosemary, lemon zest and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Taste, and add more salt and pepper as needed.
3.      Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

from Mark Bittman, The New York Times

Soak beans overnight in enough water to cover by 3-4 inches.
Drain and rinse soaked beans.
In a heavy pot, cover beans with a few inches of fresh water and bring to a boil.
      Simmer, covered, until the beans are tender (about 1 to 1 ½ hours). 
cooked beans in food processor with garlic and salt

If you don't have time to soak/cook the
beans, you can always used canned.
pouring in the olive oil
pureed white beans
fresh rosemary
lemon zest
everything in a bowl
rosemary lemon white bean dip

In addition to dipping crackers or vegetables
in it, you can also use it as a sandwich spread.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Martha Stewart's Macaroni and Cheese

Even though I already have a kick-ass recipe for mac 'n cheese, I occasionally try a new one, just to see what's out there. I've read a lot of great things about this recipe and I agree with the positive reviews. This is creamy (and of course cheesy), plus the toasted bread cubes on top add a wonderful crunch. It's definitely solid and I would be just as happy to eat this mac and cheese, as I would be to eat my old favorite. I guess you could call it a draw.

Serves 12

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn or diced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 18 ounces)
2 cups grated gruyere (about 8 oz.) or 1 1/4 cups grated pecorino romano (about 5 oz.)
1 pound elbow macaroni (or other small pasta shape)

1.      Heat oven to 375º F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter (alternately, melt butter in the microwave). Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside. Pull out 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar, and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and reserve.
2.      Fill a large pot with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Set aside.
3.      In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. In the same pot you used for boiling the pasta, melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.
4.      While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
5.      Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup Pecorino Romano. Stir reserved macaroni into the cheese sauce.
6.      Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes, it's not browned to your liking, broil the topping rather than leaving it in the oven, which may cause the pasta to overcook and sauce to dry out. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

originally from Martha Stewart (adapted from food52)
cutting bread cubes
pouring butter over bread cubes
melted butter
flour and milk whisked in (roux)
stirring in cheeses (spices already added)
adding cooked macaroni
macaroni mixture in the pan

It's going to seem too soupy, but a lot gets
absorbed as it bakes. It ends up just right.
cheese sprinkled
bread cubes on top
Martha Stewart's Macaroni & Cheese

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rhubarb Ginger Scones

Since I hardly ever use rhubarb, it feels special to me whenever I do. So when I saw that rhubarb was looking good at the store and it was also my husband's birthday coming up, I thought this would make a nice breakfast treat. I decided to add a little ginger for a very subtle kick and it was just right - a little tart and a little sweet (not too much). I'm sure it would be lovely with tea. Of course I'll never know because I don't really like tea. That's right, I'm the freak who doesn't like tea. (You're questioning my taste in everything now, aren't you?)

Makes 12-16

3 stalks rhubarb, sliced ¼-inch thick
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger (or more to taste)

1.      Preheat oven to 425º F.
2.      Toss the sliced rhubarb with 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
3.      Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in large bowl or bowl of food processor.
4.      Cut butter into flour mixture by hand (or pulse with food processor) until butter is the size of small peas.
5.      Blend in 1/4 cup of the sugar.
6.      Blend in the ginger and sliced rhubarb. (If using the food processor, just pulse — you want the slices left mostly intact.)
7.      Blend in cream until a soft dough forms. (Note: you may need to add more than 2/3 cup depending on the weather, etc.)
8.      Transfer dough to floured surface and divide in half. To make triangular scones, flatten into 6-inch disks and cut each circle into 6-8 scones. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
9.      Arrange on ungreased cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes or until reddish-brown on top.

barely adapted from food52.com (submitted by Midge)
vanilla sugar

To make vanilla sugar, just scrape the seeds from a few
vanilla beans into some sugar (I don't use exact amounts,
maybe 3 beans to 2 cups sugar). Then add the pods too. Cover
and let sit for at least a month (shake every once in a while).
crystallized ginger
rhubarb and vanilla sugar
adding butter to the flour mixture
adding vanilla sugar (the mixing will
separate those little clumps of vanilla seeds)
adding the ginger and rhubarb
pouring in the cream
dough mixed
2 dough circles
cut into triangles
sprinkled with vanilla sugar
rhubarb-ginger scones

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mesir Wat (Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew)

I get a hankering from time to time for Ethiopian food and I love making it at home. I still haven't successfully made injera (the spongy bread), so I order that online. I usually make my same old favorites, but every once in a while I like to try a new recipe. This one for red lentil stew couldn't be much simpler and it's good. A solid recipe for you lentil lovers (I know you're out there).

(Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons minced, peeled ginger
1/4 cup niter kibbeh, oil or butter
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 lb. red lentils (also known as masoor dal), rinsed
4 cups water or stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1.      Place the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender and puree. Add a little water if necessary.
2.      Heat the oil, butter or niter kibbeh in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium flame. Add turmeric, paprika and cayenne pepper and stir rapidly to color the oil and cook spices through, about 30 seconds.
3.      Add the onion puree and sauté until the excess moisture evaporates and the onion loses its raw aroma, about 5-10 minutes. Do not burn.
4.      Add lentils and water to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until lentils are cooked through and fall apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Add water if necessary to keep the lentils from drying out.
5.      Stir in salt and pepper to taste and serve.

onion, garlic & ginger
adding spices to niter kibbeh
mixing in the pureed onion/garlic/ginger
adding lentils and stock
mesir wat