Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Summer pasta with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella

The sun was setting down the street about a week ago, 

... well, it was actually setting everywhere in the area, more or less, but it only looked like this down at the end of our street.  

And I made a favorite summer pasta by dicing up some of the amazingly-red-inside-and-out tomatoes that came from the farm down the road,

And picking some basil from the basil plants in the garden outside, and mincing that up, too,

And cutting 8 ounces of mozzarella into small chunks, and adding all all once to the warm pasta just cooked, so the mozzarella got kinda melty.

And then I grated some romano on top, and ground a little pepper, too,

And then tossed some baby spinach with a vinaigrette made from olive oil, white balsamic, and dijon mustard.   

And we ate it all sitting on the side porch steps, and sat there until the sun had mostly gone.

And also until the bugs got very buggy.

But by that time we had finished up the pasta, anyway.    

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kitchen in the Yard ... now in Berlin

... Massachusetts, not Germany.

Yep, I'm still cooking in a kitchen with a yard nearby, but rather than The Yard, now it's a kitchen in the lovely home of my friends out in the country. And the yard is now a quiet, sprawling one with peas and green beans growing in rows, and fresh mint and basil growing beside the doorway. And as I sit here, I hear the rustle of leaves outside the window as a welcome breeze blows through them on this hot day. And there's not even a murmur of traffic, as far as I can hear.

How fabulous is that?

I want to write more about this new yard - literally, because it's gorgeous, and also figuratively in the sense of, this is where I am now! But for now I want to share one of the things I've made since I've been here, which I'm pumped about: curried sweet potatoes.

We ate these hot and crispy with some pan-cooked chicken last week, and I ate them cold the next day for lunch, sort of in the vein of a prepared salad, and they were delicious then, too. So I made some again today. Here they are!   Albeit a little bit blurry. 

Curried sweet potatoes 

2 sweet potatoes, diced
1 regular potato, diced (or, you can use 3 sweet potatoes alone)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp whole mustard seeds
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
Pinch cayenne pepper

Toss all ingredients together until oil and spices are evenly distributed over the potatoes. Spread diced potatoes evenly in an oven pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then, turn oven on broil, tossing mixture when potatoes start to become dark brown around the edges (you'll have to keep an eye on them for this). After 15 minutes, test a potato piece to see whether they're soft and fully cooked.  Enjoy, hot or cold!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chocolate birthday madeleines, for a birthday girl

Hey there!  I have been away for so long ... still cooking, albeit probably not quite as much as I was a few months ago.  Then, I sorta kinda lost my tiny little camera for a while ... it is pretty tiny.  But then, hurray!  It turned up yesterday buried in some luggage I hadn't used for months.  So - hopefully - I'm back!  :)

I wanted to share some fun little cookies I made for my friend Christina's birthday last month.  My mom got me a madeleine pan for Christmas a while back, which is what produced these pretty shell-like shapes.

These cookies were so easy, because I just used a brownie mix to make them.  It was a Ghiradelli brownie mix that called for 1 egg.  I used 2 eggs instead to make the final product a little fluffier than a chewy brownie would be ... these came out to have a consistency somewhere between a chewy brownie and a fluffier chocolate cake, which was just what I was going for.

I laid out some wax paper over a cookie sheet, then melted some semi-sweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips in a bowl.  Some fancier folks than I might do this in a double boiler, but I just use the microwave.  It works perfectly fine, although you do want to be sure to stop the microwave and stir the melting chocolate every 20 seconds or so, to make sure it doesn't burn.

I also chopped up some dried apricots (see below) and had those on hand, along with some colorful sprinkles.  The tiny apricots because this was an event for a very sophisticated urban dweller, don't you know, but the sprinkles were befitting a birthday party attended by the quirky, at times whimsical crowd that we are.  So we had both.

The outline of the shell at the wider end of the madeleine mold is so pretty, so we dipped the plainer, small end of the cookie in the melted chocolate.  Then just gently roll the chocolate-covered cookie in sprinkles or apricots, and place on the wax paper.  Alternatively, you could sprinkle the apricots or sprinkles on the wax paper and lay the chocolate-covered cookie on top to cover one side of the cookie, then sprinkle the tops.  That way may be a bit faster.  

After the sheet is full of cookies, you can put it in the refrigerator for at least 10-15 minutes to help the chocolate to set.   

These were pretty, and fun, and yummy, and I would absolutely do them again!