What have you been up to in the kitchen?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Spaghetti Puttanesca, Cooks Illustrated

Ah, yes, last night we prepared Spaghetti Puttanesca from Cooks Illustrated. Since we like anchovies we thought it would be great. And it was...exceeded our expectations. AND it was very easy and quick.

Spaghetti Puttanesca
Italian Classics, Cooks Illustrated

The pasta and sauce cook in about the same amount of time. If you like the fruitiness of extra virgin olive oil, toss 1 tablespoon into the sauces pasta before serving.

Serves four

4 medium cloves garlic, minced to a paste or pressed through a press
1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons minced anchovies (about eight fillets)
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, drained, reserve ½ cup juice
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
½ cup black olives (kalamata) pitted and chopped coarse
¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves and or basil

1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, mix the garlic with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl; set aside. When the water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; stir to separate the noodles. Immediately heat the oil, garlic mixture, hot red pepper flakes, and anchovies in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.

2. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, then return the pasta to the pot. Add ¼ up reserved tomato juice and toss to combine.

3. Stir the capers, olives, and parsley into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to combine, adding more tomato juice to moisten if necessary. Adjust the seasonings with salt to taste and serve immediately.

NB: We added some fresh ground black pepper and served with shaved parmesan cheese, soda water, and a fresh green salad, bread may be an option. Enjoy. It served the two of us and leftovers.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Summer Tart

This was my first foray in the world of tarts, and it was actually far easier than expected. I did learn one thing for certain - when mixing recipes, as I did with the use of a crust recipe from one source and the filling from another - make sure both are adjusted to fit the same size pan. I made slightly more filling than needed, and it did not set quite as expected. Even with some ingredient substitutions, this recipe was simple and delicious.

For the crust:
(recipe from: The Food Lover's Guide to Paris, July 1999)

8 tbls unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup plus 1 tbls unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal for flour

4 tbls finely ground unblanched almonds

Preheat oven to 350 F

Butter (or don't - it seems to work out fine either way) the bottom and sides of a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and the sugar, and using a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to form soft cookie-like dough. Transfer the dough to the center of the buttered pan. Using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. The pastry will be quite thin.

Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the dough is slightly puffy and set, 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle the ground almonds over the bottom of the crust. (This will help prevent the crust from becoming soggy. I had no ground almonds, so I used a light dusting of the almond meal flour with mixed results.)

For the filling:
(recipe from: Eric Kayser's Sweet and Savory Tarts)

Keep in mind these measurements are for a larger pan than the crust recipe - rectangular 12 x 18 inch or round 10-inch - or one could make more crust and use the bigger pan...

2 lb plums (or any other fruit - the cinnamon seasoning of this tart goes well with all the stone-fruit I tried)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup ground almonds (didn't have this, used some of the almond meal, but not a whole cup. probably why it did not set as hoped)
1 tbls ground cinnamon, and a little more for decoration
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 tbls unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 325 F (after the crust is done)

Wash and dry the plums. Cut in two and remove the stones.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs together with the sugar. Add the ground almonds, the cinnamon, and the whipping cream. Mix through. Add the melted butter and stir until blended.

Pour half the batter into the shell and arrange the plum halves on it, overlapping slightly, starting from just inside the edge of the pan. Realize you didn't have enough plums and hurridly wash, dry, and cut some other fruit to fill in the center. Pour the rest of the batter over the plums and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve cool, decorate with confectioner's sugar or icing (more sugar?? I skipped that - the fruit and filling are sweet enough, with just enough plum tartness to make it taste like summer).