Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I'm Guilty!

Although I didn't go away for the long weekend I did go out more than I should have (just ask my accountant), leaving me with little reason to cook or shop for food. I had a free night and still wanted to eat dinner after going to the gym yesterday, so fortunately found this basic recipe. Pasta, yogurt and zucchini? Not exactly a "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!" combination, but surprisingly tasty (and cheap). I thought it might need some lemon zest, but the yogurt provided all the zest required. I also used 2% yogurt and less butter, cutting out some of the extra fat for a more guilt free meal. I was already up to my eyeballs in guilt after a lunch of a fried chicken BLT topped with fried green tomatoes. And bacon. I have to go back to the gym, stat!

Pasta with Yogurt and Zucchini
Adapted from Food & Wine

1 pound cut pasta
4 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), coarsely shredded
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. One minute before the pasta is done, add the shredded zucchini to the pot. Drain the pasta and zucchini, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt the butter. Remove from the heat. Stir in the yogurt and the 1 cup of grated cheese and season the yogurt sauce with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.

3. Add the pasta, zucchini and reserved pasta water to the saucepan and cook over low heat, tossing, until the sauce coats the pasta; transfer to warmed bowls and serve with the extra cheese.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snow What?

You might have noticed a build up of this white, bulky winter precipitation that you have to shovel. Snow, I think it's called? (See photo above. Poor bastards. Good thing it rained yesterday.) Some of us got more than others (am I right, Boston and much of CT??) and boredom can start to set in when schools, activities and roads (even the L.I.E.??) are closed down. What to do...

I trekked 40 blocks to a friend's apartment to do a little baking and cooking (and by "trekked" I mean "took the subway" and by "cooking" I mean "drank wine") and ended up making two vastly different desserts as the tween trio on site could not decide on only one. "I want chocolate! I want raspberry!" I tried a compromise but it was met with a resounding, "I hate that. Gross." Whatevs. Hand me a cocktail and I can get three kids to make 2 desserts at the same time.

Somehow we decided on molten chocolate cakes circa 1987 and berry cobbler. Did I neglect to mention that "cookies are boring" and that we had to work from existing ingredients in the kitchen? Totally. (Take that Iron Chef!) In the end it all worked out. I even caught the berry tween eating the molten chocolate cake even though she "hates chocolate cake." And of course it wouldn't be 2013 if we didn't Instagram (@tinanders - holla!) the whole damn thing. (By the way, I made another version of the chocolate cakes here but this is the original recipe.) A real camera is just so 2011.

Molten Chocolate Cakes
Adapted from Food & Wine/Jean-Georges Vongerichten

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Butter and lightly flour four 6-ounce ramekins. Tap out the excess flour. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.

2. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and salt at high speed until thickened and pale.

3. Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Quickly fold it into the egg mixture along with the flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead: The batter can be refrigerated for several hours; bring to room temperature before baking.

Mixed Berry Cobbler
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking and Martha Stewart

For the Filling:
2 pints raspberries and/or blackberries (red, black, or a combination of the two)
1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the Biscuit Topping:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
3/4 heavy cream, plus more for brushing
Sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Mix together the berries and sugar. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish.

2. Make the biscuit topping: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add the cream, and use a fork to incorporate, stirring just until cream is absorbed (there should be lots of loose pieces).

3. Turn out the dough onto a clean surface, and knead once or twice, gathering loose bits into ball. Pat dough to a 1 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds or squares, or leave whole, and place on top of the filling. Brush with cream, and sprinkle with sugar.

4. Bake the cobbler until bubbling in center and biscuit topping is golden brown and cooked through, about 50 minutes (loosely tent with foil if biscuit topping gets too dark). Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Super Bowl of Dip

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I hate mayonnaise. It is the main reason why I can't stand those disgusting spinach dips that appear on crudités platters a plenty. Fortunately I have found a version that is made with both ricotta and feta cheese and is much tastier and way less slimy than the deli case variety. And since an entire bag of spinach is used, you can tell yourself (and believe it) that on this major day of dips, you are getting a full serving of vegetables along side your chicken wings and nachos. Eat up!

Fresh Spinach Dip
Adapted from Great Party Dips

6 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach (about 5 ounces)
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 ounces)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Cayenne pepper
Pita chips, crostini, and fresh vegetables for serving

1. Rinse the spinach in cold water and drain, but do not spin dry. Add to a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is bright green and just wilted, 2 - 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain. When cool, squeeze dry with your hands.

2. In a food processor, combine the garlic and salt. Process until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the ricotta, feta, oil, lemon juice, dill, cayenne (to taste) and spinach and puree until smooth.

3. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 6 hours before serving. Makes about 2 cups.