Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fettuccine with Sausage, Basil, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I love pasta!  I'm always looking for fast, simple recipes with only a few ingredients for when I don't feel like spending a long time cooking.  I figured Mario Batali's book, Molto Italiano, would have some good stuff.  The snobby part of me internally scoffed at the idea of buying a book from a celebrity chef.  But, I got over myself and ordered it.  I'm glad I did!  A lot of the recipes look very tasty and easily doable on a work night.

I already had all the ingredients for this recipe in my kitchen except for sausage. I don't know if you have this problem, but I make a lot of recipes that call for 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, leaving me with the rest of the can, even when I buy the small one.  It gets put in some tupperware and then it goes into the fridge until it achieves consciousness. It's not pretty.  This recipe is a great way to use up leftover tomato paste!  If you make the full recipe, it needs 5 tablespoons.

I made 2 servings of pasta but the full recipe of sauce. I suspect that if I'd halved the sauce, the dish would have been maybe little bland.  I used fresh garlic from my husband's grandmother's garden.  Soooo good. The recipe calls for fresh tagliatelle but I didn't have any, so I used some dried fettuccine and it was fine.  If fresh pasta is easily accessible to you, go for it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chicken Kebab with Spicy Bulgur Salad

This was supposed to be a recipe for shrimp kebabs and spicy bulgur salad.  But there was chicken in the freezer, so I used that.  Instead of trying to adapt the shrimp kebab recipe for chicken, I marinated it in olive oil, garlic, and some of the spice mix used in the bulgur salad.  It was simple and fast. But, the rest of this dish is kind of labor intensive, since there are four major components that need to be made: Golden Spice Mix, Chicken Kebabs, Spicy Tomato Dressing, and Spicy Bulgur Salad.  I would say that if you are in a hurry but would love the Spicy Bulgur Salad, the tomato dressing is definitely optional.  I loved it, but if you're strapped for time just omit it, the dish will still be good.  Plus the salad is definitely scalable, it kept in the fridge for 3 days! The spice mix takes no time at all to make and the chicken can cook on the grill while you prepare the bulgur salad ingredients.

The bulgur salad looks deceptively easy, but the dressing requires peeled and seeded tomatoes, which is a huge, time consuming pain in the butt.  That said, it's a fabulous dressing.  It has just the right amount of spiciness for the chicken, and the lemon and ginger stop it from being too tomatoey.

The star of this meal was definitely the bulgur salad.  It was great with the chicken, and I ate the leftovers for lunch two days later!  This recipe comes from Saha, Greg Malouf's first book on Middle Eastern cuisine; it features dishes from Lebanon and Syria.  It's thinner than Turquoise, so it has fewer recipes.  I like how Saha has several different spice mixes and sauces that can be used in the main dish recipes.
Keepin' it klassy with a posh serving dish for the dressing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pasta a la Power Outage

Last week DC got hit by a derecho, which I had never heard of until it was mentioned on TV.  It was a relatively short bout of rain accompanied by severe winds that took out enough trees and power lines that almost a million people in the DC area lost power. Actually, I missed the entire storm.  I went to see Magic Mike (chef recommends!) with some friends and then we went to a bar that was downstairs and had no windows.  It never lost power so I had no idea what was going on until people started texting me. I expected Metro to be in its usual state of weather-related fubar, but shockingly I made it to an above ground station without any problems. My husband picked me up and I came home to a house without power during one of the worst heatwaves on record.  It was over 90 degrees in our bedroom.  We ended up sleeping on the first floor on a mattress that we dragged down two flights of stairs.

Fifty.  Hours.  Without power.

Needless to say, we threw out the entire contents of our fridge and freezer.  Our cooler is tiny and it didn't seem worth it to try and salvage the one chicken breast that would have fit inside.  At least it was a good excuse to give the fridge a good cleaning.

The power came back on early on Monday morning and since I had to work, the big Wegmans run wasn't going to happen.  We've got a relatively new Safeway near our house, but I haaaaaate it.  It never has enough checkout lines open, the store layout was designed by a lab rat who ate three times its body weight in meth, and they are always out of things that I need.

So, we went to the Italian deli around the corner and bought some fresh pasta and the stuff I needed to improvise a tomato sauce.  What started out as an experiment turned into an excellent sauce! (Awesomesauce?) Since I bought a 28 ounce can of tomato puree, I ended up making the sauce twice to use it all.  The second night I tweaked it a little and it was even better!

This sauce is very tomatoey, but not in a sweet, commercial tomato sauce way. I added kalamata olives and capers for a little saltiness and a TON of garlic.  It took me about 20 minutes to make this.  I'm sure it could have simmered longer, but I was starving.  It's easy and vegetarian.

Awesomesauce version 1. I put cheese on half of the pasta so I could take a picture of the sauce.  I'm so considerate. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stir Fried Pork with Garlic Scapes

A few weeks ago, my husband and I visited my in-laws.  They took us to the West Side Market and I bought some garlic scapes on a whim.  I'd never cooked them before, but my mother in law said they were pretty awesome.  She suggested that they would taste good with pork.  I looked all over the internet for a tasty sounding pork and garlic scape recipe and stumbled across this one from Tigers and Strawberries, one of my favorite cooking blogs.  I'm sad that it hasn't been updated in a while, I've tried so many of her recipes!  I modified this one a little because I didn't have time to go to the grocery store and made it with what I had already.  So, no pressed tofu or dried mushrooms.  But it still worked out really well, and the garlic scapes really are quite tasty.  They have the consistency of Chinese long beans unless they're blanched.  I wanted a bit of a crunch, so I didn't bother.  They taste like garlic, but lighter and crunchy.

This dish is pretty quick to make if you marinate the pork and then chop everything while it's sitting in the fridge.

My frog chopstick rest is fabulous. 


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