Thursday, November 11, 2010

This Week's Challenge: Inspiration

Necessity pressed hard upon us recently so I have had some fun inventing a dish or two. To the right is my turkey-basil pizza of last night. As we wanted to get our 10 month old some protein we cooked some ground turkey without anything (fearing even black pepper would be too spicy). However, he could not eat that pound of ground meat in a few days (frankly, I'd be scared if he did) so I created this:

1 Boboli Crust
Tomato Sauce (enough to cover)
Mozzarella Cheese (enough to cover)
Ground Turkey
Two or three leaves basil (torn)

Heat oven to 450ยบ. Add all but the basil to the crust. Cook in middle for 8-10 mins. Add Basil and serve.

Yes, I know, this is not how we make pizza; but like a few pierogi in the fridge, a pizza crust, a can of tomato sauce, and cheese are a simple way to eliminate leftovers. Speaking of leftovers:

I took the leftovers of this Greek vegetable soup (from The Olive and the Caper) and used them as a sauce to some handmade papardelle and it was awesome:

1 c. olive oil
2 med. eggplants, cut in 1" cubes
12 med. shallots, peeled and left whole
8 cloves garlic, slivered
4 med. tomatoes, chopped or can of chopped tomatoes in winter
3/4 c. dry red wine
1 bay leaf
1/4 c. basil, shredded and whole to garnish

1. Heat oil in skillet. Add eggplant, shallot, garlic, 10-12 mins. Stir frequently
2. Stir in tomatoes, wine, bay leaf, salt, pepper. DO NOT TOUCH. Let simmer 45-50 mins. (Oil will rise to top)
3. Remove bay leaf and remove from heat. Let cool 10 mins. Add shredded basil to whole. Garnish individual bowls with some whole basil.

p.s. if you skimp on the oil, your eggplant will taste too sharp.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Chicken Carbonara

Mary made this a few weeks ago and I've craved it ever since.  I'll admit I've been afraid of this dish because of the possible end result of "scrambled eggs and pasta" that I know people have had to eat (if you're reading this, you know who you are).  But that wasn't a problem at all, and if you want some good comfort food pasta, this is definitely for you.  The recipe is based off of Giada's, but I changed a few things and that is what you see before you... (I will warn you it's a bit labor intensive.  Giada's recipe says the total cook time is 22 minutes, but that would be in the lovely world of having a sous chef.  The prep work probably takes that amount of time, and then you have to cook it.  And if you're like me, just add another 15 minutes to that because I'm just slow.)  Serves 6.

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 slices bacon (I think I'll add more next time) or 4 oz pancetta chopped
4 cloves minced garlic (Or more-- you know you want to)
2 1/2 cups whipping cream (admittedly, this much cream kind of freaked me out, so I just did 2 cups cream and 1/2 c milk)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (didn't have this so I did 2 tbsp of dried)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 pound spaghetti
3 chicken breasts, browned and cooked through, and coarsely chopped  or 1 roasted chicken coarsely shredded
1 cup cooked peas
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (I used pecans, and this was such a nice touch)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan (the pan needs to be large enough to fit all of your pasta, so make sure it's BIG) over medium heat. Add the bacon and garlic and saute until it is brown and crisp about 8 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, cheese, yolks, and herbs.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Add the chicken and peas to the pan with the bacon and stir to combine. Next, add the spaghetti and the cream mixture and toss over medium-low heat until the chicken is heated through and the sauce coats the spaghetti thickly.  Giada says this takes 4 minutes, but it took me about 10, though I was very afraid of cooking it too quickly.  Just watch it and make sure you do not boil the sauce because that will scramble the eggs-- yuck. Season the pasta, to taste, with pepper and salt if needed (the bacon will likely add all the salt you need).

Sprinkle with the nuts and lemon, and serve.