Chanterelles, and Marjoram Pesto Pasta

19 11 2009

So, maybe I can focus. Sometimes. On some things. Like food, for instance. Yep, shocker, I really like making stuff to eat and then eating it. I did that for about five hours yesterday. I didn’t eat all of what I made, though. Thankfully, on that front, I have help.

Yesterday was a good example of making the best of a terrible lapse in time management skills. I worked on computer things all day (interspersed with some knitting) and then had decided to go to yoga, which was at four. Now, consider that I’m still looking for a job. And consider that the only thing I had actually scheduled myself to do yesterday was yoga. I got all ready for yoga, and then for some reason (which I may never divine) I decided to kill a few minutes messing with this new mascara I bought. Right before yoga.

Please explain my brain to me.

I mean, the mascara is great. I like it a lot. But I don’t need to put it on for yoga, for pete’s sake. Anyway, I went to close my computer and hop on my bike to find that I had wasted some ungodly amount of time on this mascara and now was never, ever going to make it to yoga in time. Good job, Kirsten. When you miss your daily exercise, there’s only one thing to do: go to the grocery store and then cook up a storm. Yep, if you can’t work it off, put some extra in, that’s what I say.

Okay, in all seriousness, I needed to get some staples and the ingredients for a cobbler and some jalapeno cornbread for our impending craft night (hooray). I really sort of enjoy the experience of wandering around a grocery store by myself; I feel more able to browse and come up with recipes as I walk around. I like going with company, too, but going alone is a different experience altogether. I went to a grocery to which I’d not been, and enjoyed it pretty thoroughly. There were a lot of local options, far more than anywhere else I’ve been thus far, and I was able to secure what seem to be local, humane, vegetarian, hormone- and antibiotic-free eggs, milk, and butter. This is great for me, as previously I’ve felt a bit lost at supermarkets around here.

I found these:

Chanterelles! I’ve never had the chance to cook them before. So I made chanterelle mushrooms and brussels sprouts sauteed in champagne vinegar and butter, threw in some field roast apple-sage vegetarian “sausage” (seriously the best stuff out there, and not nearly as processed as you think it is), and served it over a bed of marjoram pesto star-pasta (like chicken and stars, because I’m seven and I like the shape) with a side of roasted turnips. And then a friend came and had dinner with me! And another stopped by on the way home. I think one of the best parts of cooking is the communality of sharing a meal, and I’m lucky to have people to share with.

So, how bout a recipe? Today I’m going to share a recipe for marjoram pesto. It’s easy, and it will blow your mind. Marjoram is one of my very favorite flavors.

  • 1 bunch marjoram, about a handful, leaves removed from stems
  • 1/4c pine nuts
  • 1/2c grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil, roughly 4 tbsp, but use your judgment
  • 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 5-6 leaves basil

Put everything in a food processor and blend it till it’s smooth. Put it on your pasta. Thank me later. Yeah, that was difficult, right? Okay, okay, one quick thing: if you think it needs more olive oil, do it! Also, to actually make the pasta, I drained the stars, put them back in the pot, added about 1 tbsp of butter, stirred that in with another 1/4c or so of grated parmesan, and then added the pesto.

I’ll post a baking-themed entry later about all my cranberry escapades yesterday evening! I baked 2 different tasty cranberry desserts and I can’t wait to tell you about them. Teaser:

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Some things never get old

12 09 2009

Like soup, salad, and good bread!

So I mentioned the no-more-photos quandary to my dear friend Patrick, and he told me to quit being so fussy and just snap a damn picture. Good advice! I took a quickie with my iPhone so you can be just jealous enough to try this recipe. I rounded up the recipe for the salad from eat the right stuff and got a rough idea of what I was doing on the gazpacho from another blog, though I didn’t really follow the recipe.

Hatch Chile Gazpacho

  • 1 hatch chile pepper, mild (I bought a spare to use for garnishing; you only need a 3 or 4 slices garnish for each serving, but the leftovers can always get thrown in some eggs with cheese and Cholula)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (sorry, sorry, do something with the extra half, it can’t be that bad)
  • 4-5 basil leaves
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp (ish) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 slice bread (I used a roasted garlic and jack cheese, mmm), soaked in
  • 1/2c stock (I use, at the suggestion of the inimitable Orangette, Imagine’s No-Chicken Broth, because it doesn’t taste like much)
  • 1 seedless/English/Canadian/whateverthefuck your grocery is calling it today cucumber (the one with ridges, in plastic wrap), peeled
  • 1 large tomater!
  • salt to taste

Put the peppers, green onion, basil and garlic in your food processor and process until extremely finely chopped. Wee, tiny pieces. Add lemon juice, olive oil, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar; process until it starts to puree. Add the bread and stock and puree. Add tomato and cucumber; here you get to make your own choices. Sam likes hers pureed and thusly I puree it. Others like it a little chunky. This is why I tell you to wait to the end to add the cuke and tomato, because these are the things you would want chunks of. It’s like a choose your own adventure story, except the ending is always that you eat gazpacho. Add salt to taste (I used, I think, somewhat less than a teaspoon). Chill for as long as you have; I hear 2 hours is the minimum, but I don’t plan very well, so mine chilled more like half an hour. Oops. Garnish with a few slices of hatch pepper and be sure to serve with a few pieces of crusty bread!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Salad

  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1/4c pine nuts, toasted (it is possible, just possible, that I forgot to toast these. Eh.)
  • salad greens (I used a spring mix or whatever, I’m not picky. It’s green. Put it in my face.)
  • Small log of Montchevre goat cheese (I like this brand because it’s mild and creamy and not too expensive and mmmmmmmm)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • heaping 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss yer sweet potaters in olive oil with the minced garlic and the chili flakes; roast in the oven for about 30 min, until tender and slightly browned at the edges. Put on a plate to cool and put the peppers in the pan as well (add a little more olive oil if you’re worried there’s not enough left over) and roast for about 20min. See how I just saved you a pan? You’re welcome.

While the warm foods cool, mix up your salad dressing, put some greens on a plate, pinch off a bunch of goat cheese for each salad (or just a little, if you’re a wuss, but I like as much as I can put on there without seeming like I have a problem), etc. Once they’re around room temp or slightly, slightly warmer, arrange the potatoes and peppers atop the salad greens, sprinkle with pine nuts and goat cheese, and drizzle with your vinaigrette. Eat!





Early Spring Supper

5 03 2009

The headwind coming home tonight on my bike was absolutely killer. I was pedaling all the way down the Pleasant Valley bridge over Town Lake, which is bordering on the ridiculous. I am almost convinced I am actually a sail that has developed (perhaps mediocre) consciousness.

Anyway, the long and the short of this is that I was ridiculously hungry when I got home. And what do you do on a cool Texas spring evening? Make pasta with asparagus. Clearly. I loved this combination mostly because the pasta is tossed in a lemony-parmesan white sauce infused with rosemary and garlic – a hearty winter sauce if ever there was one – and then paired with tangy, balsamic-rosemary-roasted-tofu wedges and crisp, barely-roasted asparagus. It’s the perfect dish for being in between seasons.

I’m not posting a recipe for the entire thing. It’s pasta. Improvise, for goodness sake. But the white sauce, yes, that deserves a good recipe.

2 c milk
1.5 tbsp butter
2 tbsp unbleached flour
7 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
5 or 6 sprigs of rosemary
zest of 1 lemon
salt
1/2 c finely grated parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan; whisk in flour and continue cooking and whisking until pale gold. Whisk in the 2 c milk, the garlic, rosemary, and lemon zest, and heat to a simmer over medium heat (no higher and do not boil, it is milk after all) until thickened. This takes awhile. Not forever, it’s no choux pastry, but it’s awhile. Strain garlic cloves and rosemary out of white sauce and stir in parmesan, whisking until cheese is melted and you have a delicious thick creamy pasta sauce.

To make the rest of the pasta, I simply caramelized about 1 c of chopped onions and about 7-10 cloves garlic, minced, in a pan with the zest of 1/2 a lemon, and then let that sit around on low to med-low heat for awhile. Right at the end, I stirred in the peas and then added pasta and the white sauce, and cooked it over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or so to integrate everything.

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Pasta is so easy. Yum. I am full and pleased!