Burrata on salad

Adapted from Joy Food Sunshine

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz arugula mix
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup Fresh basil, torn in shreds
  • 8 oz Burrata cheese
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Put all the dressing ingredients (balsamic, olive oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper) in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside but do not chill.
  2. Place the arugula in a salad bowl
  3. Slice the tomatoes in half, and place them on top of the spring mix. Add the burrata cheese on top of this.
  4. Sprinkle sea salt and fresh black pepper on top of each burrata cheese round, to taste.
  5. Drizzle with your desired amount of dressing. Serve.

Jesse had never tried burrata before, whereas I considered it one of the great salad toppers. We picked up all of the ingredients from the Roosevelt Island Farmers’ Market, including good ($13 eek) burrata from Hoboken Farms, and used fresh basil from our basil plant.

Store-bought pizza dough pizza

Adapted from The Kitchn, makes 2 pizzas. Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. store-bought dough, at room temperature for at least 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup (or 3 tbsp) of Rao’s Pizza Sauce, per pizza
  • 4 cloves of garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil
  • prosciutto
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced and sautéed
  • handful of mushrooms, sautéed
  • 1 cup mozzarella di bufala, thinly sliced
  • handful of basil, torn
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • cornmeal or all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Set your oven to 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Defrost pizza dough on top of stove.
  2. Sautee raw toppings.
  3. Tear off a large piece of parchment paper roughly 12 inches long. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, form it into a large disk with your hands and place it on the parchment. Use your hands to flatten the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick or less. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling. Brush a thin film of olive oil on a baking sheet. 
  4. Pre-bake the crust for 3-4 minutes before adding toppings.
  5. Top the pizza. Spoon half of the sauce onto the center of the pizza and use the back of the spoon to spread it out to the edges. Pile on half of the toppings and half of the cheese.
  6. Bake the pizza right on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pizza. If using parchment, slide it out from under the pizza and discard. Bake until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  7. Repeat making a second pizza with the remaining dough, cheese, and toppings.

Tips I came across on multiple websites:

Crust

  • Let the refrigerated dough sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or more before rolling.
  • Let the oven heat for at least half an hour before baking your pizzas. If you have a baking stone or steel, place it in the lower-middle part of your oven.
  • Set your oven to 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your comfort. You can make good pizza at 450ºF/232ºC. 
  • Flour a clean wood chopping board (if big enough) to use as a work surface.
  • Don’t roll out the dough — press out the edges to make a crust (don’t press the middle), then stretch with one hand and rotate with other hand, then toss from hand to hand. video
  • Cover the dough and give it a 10-minute break to relax the gluten, when needed.
  • Pizza size: no more than 10 inches/25 cm in diameter.
  • Use olive oil on the sheet, and on the edges before baking. Spread olive oil on both sides of the crust.
  • If you don’t have cornmeal, use Parchment paper. FYI: The paper catches on fire if it touches the heating element.

Sauce

  • Pre-bake the crust for 3-4 minutes before adding toppings.
  • Add enough sauce so that when you spread it, you can still see the dough underneath: 2-3 tbsp of sauce per pizza. Less is more!

Toppings

  • Preheat the oven; While you’re waiting, set up your toppings.
  • Pre-cook raw ingredients (mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, meat, etc.)
  • Keep the toppings to just a handful at most. If you load homemade pizza down with a ton of toppings, it may take too long for the crust to cook.
  • For the cheese, use a low-moisture, whole milk mozzarella. If you want to use fresh mozzarella, drain it and pat it dry. 
  • If you plan to add some fresh arugula or herbs to your pizza, top the pizza with hand-torn basil after it’s out of the oven.

References: Good in the Simple, Garlic Delight, Pillsbury, The Kitchn

Next time I will try Brie, Sage, and Prosciutto toppings; or pesto in place of sauce and top with chicken, fresh tomato, and buffalo mozzarella. I would also try to make garlic knots (dough knotted together with garlic, parsley, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese). I forgot to defrost the dough ahead of time, so I followed this trick from Baking Kneads to wrap the oiled up put it in the oven at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (used the bread proofing setting) for one hour, then check if it is ready (risen to double its size). If it is not fully defrosted, back in the oven for 30 minutes. We used a baking sheet, not a pizza stone, and Parchment paper.

~Jessica

Salsa di pomodoro

Adapted from Lidia’s Italy and her alla marinara

Ingredients:

  • 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomato
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1/2 celery stick, chopped fine
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • salt and red pepper flakes (peperoncino) to taste
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (about 3 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves. Rinse the tomato cans with 2 cups of water and add that as well. Bring everything to a boil. Add the basil.
  4. Season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaves. Taste, and season with more salt and red pepper to taste. Serve!

We were renting an AirBnB and I wanted something delicious but easy peasy and super tasty. For some protein, we picked up the Spicy Jalapeño Chicken Sausage. I recommend coating the pasta in the sauce, rather than just topping with it. Don’t be afraid to garnish with parmesan cheese and more fresh basil as the mood strikes! The photo shows a leftover overloaded potato skin which reheated well in the oven.

~Jessica

Jesse’s chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 – 3 jalapeños (depending on spice preference), seeded and cored, chopped. Can substitute serrano or habanero peppers if you like spicy.
  • 1 lb. of grass-fed ground beef (or bison)
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder (can sub with any unsweetened chocolate)
  • 4 tomatoes on the vine, quartered
  • 1 can of black or red beans, drained
  • 3 oz. (1/2 small can) of tomato paste
  • enough beer (~1/2 can) or red wine (~1 cup) to cover
  • toppings: cilantro, sour cream, Mexican grated cheese, etc.

Directions:

  1. Start a dutch oven on medium heat.
  2. Sauté the onion, chili pepper (jalapeños) until aromatic. Add the garlic and spices, cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the beef, stir to break up. Cook until browned, about 3 – 4 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, beans, tomato paste, and the alcohol to the pot. The liquid should just about cover the ingredients.
  5. Turn down the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour or so. The consistency should thicken, until you have a nice sauce-y chili.
  6. When consistency achieved, serve with cornbread or parboiled rice. Garnish with cilantro, sour cream, and/or grated cheese, as you prefer.

A beer we chose to add was a brown ale made in New Hampshire: Pig’s Ear Brown Ale, made by Woodstock Inn Brewery. It was about an hour west of our Air BnB. The beer pairs well with the chili, but we chose to pair it with a red wine, a nice Smoking Loon Merlot Jesse was familiar from previous experience. This is probably the best chili I’ve ever had, just sayin’.

~Jessica

British macaroni cheese

Adapted from Great British Chefs and British Food History

Ingredients:

  • 30 g plain flour 
  • 30 g butter 
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 400 ml hot full-fat milk 
  • 6g of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200-250 g macaroni 
  • 1 slice stale bread 
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves, or ¼ tsp fried rosemary (optional) 
  • 225 g Stilton cheese, grated 
  • 200 g Gruyere or Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 30g of Parmesan
  • Pinch of Cayenne pepper or 20g of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly-milled black pepper
  • 15 basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Start by cooking some pasta of your choice in a pan of boiling water. Once cooked, strain the pasta and set aside
  2. Place 50 mL milk into a pan over a low-medium heat and add the thyme and bay. Bring up to a warm heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place a separate pan over a low heat and add the 4 tbsp. butter and 4 cloves of garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the flour. Heat for for 2-3 minutes and stir constantly so the mixture comes together. –> Béchamel sauce
  4. Strain the milk, thyme and bay mixture so that you are just left with the infused milk. Gradually (over 5 minutes) add the infused milk to the other pan and stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer
  5. Take the pan off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese, mustard, basil and pasta to the pan and then pour the contents of the pan into a casserole dish. Cover with some extra cheese and place in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes (I prefer stovetop because I haven’t a baking dish currently).
  6. Remove the dish from the oven, divide the macaroni cheese into 4 portions and serve immediately.

My grandmother gave me a box of instant mac and cheese from her senior citizen community center (before the pandemic lockdown). Of course I didn’t want to eat that stuff straight, so I thought I would try to dress it up with some caramelized onions, garlic, herbs, and whatever else I might find in the pantry.

~Jessica

Pasta con zucchine e ricotta

Adapted from Memorie di Angelina and Galbani

Ingredients:

  • 400g (14 oz) short pasta of your choice (I had De Cecco Rotelle)
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut into thin slices
  • 2-3 shallots, finely minced (used a small brown onion)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, whole
  • 250g (9 oz) ricotta cheese
  • 50g (2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet or sauté pan, sauté the shallots in abundant olive oil and a knob of butter for a minute or so, until wilted. Add the garlic and zucchini and raise the heat. Toss them as they cook until the zucchini is just tender, about 5 minutes or so. Turn off the heat when the zucchini are done.
  2. Mix the ricotta and the grated Parmesan cheese, together with the basil leaves if using.
  3. Meanwhile, boil the pasta in well salted water until al dente.
  4. Drain the pasta, but not too well and add it to the skillet and toss it with the zucchini over gentle heat. Add the ricotta mixture and mix well.
  5. Serve while still warm.

Shallots and onions are not the same, I know. No fresh basil, although a student last week told me, in all seriousness, that I should just buy a basil plant. You’re absolutely right, M. I only had one zucchini, so I would get at least two or three next time. Not my best picture, but I didn’t balance the cheese to zucchini proportion right (only 1 zucchini, correct cheese + mozzarella). Will do better next time ^_^

~Jessica

Turkey chili with beans

Adapted from smitten kitchen and a Whole Foods ingredients list

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds ground turkey (I used 1 lb.)
  • 2 cans 15.5 oz dark kidney beans, drained (I used Teasdale Chile verde beans and Goya Frijoles negros)
  • 1 14 ounce (400 g) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned vegetable stock or turkey broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa or cornmeal (I used corn starch)
  • 1/3 cup chili powder (I used paprika instead — sweeter flavor)
  • oregano, basil
  • cilantro, chopped, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Place a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, stirring well, and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the celery.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Gradually add the broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in all of the spices (e.g. chili powder, cumin), cocoa (thickener), and tomatoes (and tomato paste).
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beans, bell pepper, salt, and vinegar (or lime juice), stirring well.
  5. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes more. Adjust flavor with your spices of choice. Top with the chopped cilantro.
  6. Garnish with cheddar, sour cream, and jalapeno, as you like it. Serve hot, with cornbread, if desired.

Turkey is good brain food, and Whole Foods has a Tequila lime turkey chili with beans that we would get, before I tried this recipe. I love the tomato paste that comes in metal tubes, like at Rewe or Kaufland or Edeka, because you wouldn’t have to worry about finishing the tin or storing the unused bit. I added ½ a carrot because I had it on hand and I didn’t think it would detract from the primary flavors. Wish I had some cheddar to grate on top!

Happy Boxing Day,
~Jessica

Spaghetti aglio e olio

IMG_20180421_214235.jpg

Adapted from Lidia’s Italy

Ingredients:
1/3 cup olive oil
10 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 lb. spaghetti
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt to taste
fresh Italian parsley (didn’t have)
fresh Basil (didn’t have)
½ cup Grana Padano, grated

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and let sizzle until garlic begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water once you begin cooking the garlic and give the spaghetti a stir. Once the garlic is golden, add the peperoncino and let toast for a minute, then ladle in 2 cups pasta water. Bring the sauce to a rapid boil. Season with salt based on taste (and how salty your pasta water is).

Once the sauce has reduced by about half and the spaghetti is al dente, scoop the pasta from the water and add to the sauce. Add the parsley. Cook and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Off heat, add the basil and grated cheese. Toss, adding a final drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.

~Jessica

 

Avocado pasta

IMG_20180403_144205.jpgAdapted from Damn Delicious

Ingredients:
350 g spaghetti
2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:
In a large pot of boiling water, season with salt and cook pasta according to package instructions; reserve a little pasta water. We had fusilli, which took 9 minutes to cook al dente.
To make the avocado sauce, combine avocados, basil (didn’t have — next time!), garlic and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor (I minced and mashed by hand with a rice paddle); season with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine pasta, avocado sauce, cherry tomatoes and corn (vegetables next time).
Serve immediately.

Fettucine con sugo di Mafalda

IMG_20171014_200636.jpg

Adapted from Lidia’s Italy

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 lb. pasta (I had farfalle)
  • 10 basil leaves, freshly shredded (I had parsley)
  • 1/2 cup Grana Padano, grated

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile… Saute 1/2 chopped red onion, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 minced carrot, 1/2 chopped gray zucchini in the saucepan.
  3. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer.
  4. Stir in the heavy cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Slip the pasta into boiling water. When the pasta is al dente (15 minutes) and sauce is ready, drop the pasta directly into the sauce. If some pasta water gets in there, all the better!
  6. Add the shredded basil (parsley), then toss to coat the pasta with the sauce.
  7. Remove from heat, stir in the grated cheese, and serve immediately.

I never knew this sauce had a name, but I have added cream to tomato sauce many a time for a variant on plain ol’ marinara. Not for the lactose-intolerant, of course, but adds some extra fat to a tasty vegetarian meal!

~Jessica