29 March 2008

Ravioli Aglio e Olio with a Tomato-Cucumber Salad

I live in a neighbourhood that was (at one time, anyway) very Italian. I don't really know if the population of the area is so much Italian anymore, but there are Italian restaurants and specialty stores everywhere around here. I've never been into any of them, but if I ever went into one of the stores, I'd be willing to bet if I had the money, I'd come walking out with a pasta machine. Then I'd use it once, decide it was too much bother, and put it away for when I have more time. Anyway, why make my own pasta when I can buy it fresh and made by some company far more capable than me?

So this is spinach and cheese ravioli with olive oil and garlic and parsley and Parmesan cheese. And tomato and cucumber slices with mozzarella.

Really lazy (maybe, maybe a 10 minute meal), but really tasty.

24 March 2008

Pork Sauerbraten with Lazy Cabbage Rolls and a Green Salad

So... this turned into a kind of meat heavy meal. Which I blame entirely on my sister. Even though it's not her fault.

Basically, I found a recipe for pork Sauerbraten that I wanted to try out. And then I was trying to decide what to serve with it, since I don't like spaetzle, which was what the recipe suggested. In the freezer was a bag of cabbage roll mix, which my sister had made and which I thought was comprised mainly of rice with a little meat. Turns out it was comprised mainly of meat with just a little bit of rice.

Anyway, the sauerbraten recipe is another Pork! Fork! recipe from Put Pork on Your Fork. I used a smaller bone-in roast, and made it in the slow cooker, rather than properly roasting it. It was really delicious, though I did find the vinegar a touch strong. (Probably I didn't need to marinate the meat for so long, since it was a significantly smaller roast.) The gravy, which is so white because it's got a huge lot of sour cream in it, was really tasty too, though nobody else in my house would try it.

The cabbage roll mix... well, I made it the lazy way. Cook the meat mixture in a frying pan, then transfer to a baking dish. In the same frying pan, cook off a bunch of sliced cabbage until it wilts, then dump it and a cup or so of tomato juice over the meat. Bake for about 30 minutes or until it's bubbling. Delicious.

My sister's husband made the salad for us, and just off on the edge of the plate you can sort of see some asparagus that my sister made, but it was a bit overcooked, so nobody ate it.

Caramelized Onion Pizza with Gorgonzola and Toasted Walnuts

This picture has been sitting around for almost a week, waiting for me to get around to deciding whether or not to post it. Thing is... I never ate it. But I decided to put it up anyway, since it was an interesting experiment, if not one I'd like to repeat. Or rather, one I might repeat if I use a slightly different ingredient or two next time.

This was part three of my (soon to be) four part March pizza odyssey. (The pizza shells come in a pack of four.) The recipe came from a vegetarian cookbook of mine A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. His recipes have always been really delicious when I've made them, and I think this one probably is too, but I just have not developed a taste for blue cheese.

This is a pizza without a sauce. The base is just a huge mound of caramelized onions, which have been finished with a bit of balsamic vinegar. (I was too lazy to cook it off properly, so the onions were a bit more pungent than sweet, but I still think they tasted delicious. My sister thought it smelled foul.) It was baked with some crumbled gorgonzola over top (I read somewhere that gorgonzola is a bit more mild of a blue cheese, but I don't know if that's true, and if that was mild... I'd hate to taste the properly pungent stuff) and then in the last couple minutes of the baking time, I added crumbed walnuts.

When I went to eat the pizza... everything was fine up until I got my first bit of gorgonzola, and then I immediately pitched the lot of it into the bin and went out for McDonalds. (Or not McDonalds, but... something that wasn't covered with blue cheese at any rate.)

13 March 2008

Mexican Taco Salad Pizza with Refried Beans

It's.... a taco salad pizza. I guess. With refried beans in place of the ground beef.

I don't think it's possible to do anything new with pizza anymore, but this weird idea came to me today (I'm sure someone else somewhere else sometime else came up with it first) and I absolutely had to make it.

So, from the bottom up: a pizza shell, half a can of refried beans cooked with half a packet of taco seasoning (I should have made my own, but I was too lazy) and a bit of water, cheese (cheddar and an Italian blend), slices of tomato. So I baked that until it was heated through, the cheese was melted and the crust was darkened. (Obviously I darkened it a bit too much, but that's what I get for wiping up the counter when I should have been taking it out of the oven.) Once it was out of the oven, I topped it with lettuce and more tomatoes. If I'd had salsa, I'd have spooned some of that on top. And if I'd had green onions, I'd have used some of those. And if I'd thought of putting sour cream on it, I might have done that too.

It was really good. Even my sister and her husband liked it, though they think I should use beef rather than beans next time.

11 March 2008

Pizza Margherita

One of the things I do for my job is make price labels to go on the shelves at the grocery store, and today the dairy guy asked me to make some new labels for the mozzarella cheeses because the old ones had almost all fallen off. (They're in a shoddy channel and rarely last out the week before I'm replacing some of them.) And I suddenly got a craving, standing in my work room with an armload of mozzarella cheeses, for tomato and mozzarella cheese pizza.

How fortunate I work in a grocery store. Of course, I still managed to forget fresh basil (I had to dollop on pesto to get that basil flavour) and the tomatoes weren't quite ripe enough, but I think it still came together well enough in the end.

Pizza Margherita is one of my absolute favourite pizzas. It's so simple, but completely delicious. And even if this isn't quite a proper one, it was the best thing I've had to eat in ages.

10 March 2008

Madras Fried Rice

This is kind of... a mishmash of things. I had some spiced rice leftover from a while back and wanted to use it up, so I thought... why not an Indian fried rice. So I bought some veal scallopini (it was cheaper than pre-sliced stirfry beef) and cooked it with Madras curry paste, some carrots, onions and peas. Then I tossed in the rice, cooked it until it was really hot and dug in.

I used too much curry paste, so it was the wrong kind of spicy, but it still tasted good, even if it'll probably give me a gut ache.

So a while ago I'd bought a package thing for making biryani, but I never got around to it and the spice paste for cooking the vegetables/meat expired. But there was a packet of spices in it that you were meant to cook in with the rice, so I did. Altogether I added an inch of cinnamon, 4 or 5 peppercorns, 2 green cardamom pods, 4 cloves and the hugest bay leaf I've ever seen in my life.

The flavour of the rice wasn't really strong - it still mainly tasted like basmati rice - but it smelled amazing, which added something interesting to the experience of eating it. I'll definitely try it again, though I may leave out the cinnamon.

09 March 2008

Gingery-Dijon Pork Roast with Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans and Piroshky

I've not given up on this blog, but I have been very much not in the mood for it lately. Not even the blog, just the food, I suppose. Maybe it's the winter doldrums, but I do tend to latch onto comfort foods and easy, lazy junk foods around this time of year, and it's been worse with my grandfather having been sick and then dying because it's made me not want to care about anything else. Make a decent dinner or mope and eat a row oreos for dinner? The oreos would win out.

There have been a few meals that I haven't posted in the meantime. Besides the old standards that aren't worth a photograph (or have already been photographed.) My sister and I made roast chicken last week, with mashed potatoes, stuffing and salad. But I've posted that meal before, so no sense in posting it again.

And a while back I made this really gorgeous rice pilaf-ish thing. Well, not a pilaf, but I don't really know what to call it. It was a flavoured rice that's meant to be served with something else, but... I didn't feel up to making anything else, so I wound up freezing the rice. Tomorrow I'm going to try making a kind of faux-Indian, faux-fried rice with some of the leftovers.

At any rate, we've been making proper Sunday dinners around here the last couple weeks. Last week was the chicken, this week was a pork leg roast we got from my aunt and uncle. (A pig of which we could find out the provenance, even. It's not often I get meat like that, since generally I can't afford the good stuff where you can find out.) The reason for the Sunday dinners is that we're working on emptying the freezer. There's quite a lot of roasts and hams and probably another chicken in there. We could almost eat a roast a day for half a month, I'm sure. (The aforementioned aunt and uncle give us a lot of meat. Every time we see them, they send a small cooler of meat back home with us. Sometimes it's from deer they've hunted, sometimes pork.)

I've never cooked a pork roast before - or a roast of any sort, actually - so I went looking for a website that's slapped on the labels of a lot of pork packages around here - putporkonyourfork.com. I found a recipe for a pork roast that I was able to adapt to the bone-in roast we had. They call it Sensational Pork Roast, but I call it Gingery-Dijon Roast because those were the two predominant flavours. I think I used a fair bit more ginger than it called for, but it tasted amazing.

The roasted potato recipe was one I found from Giada de Laurentiis, but I found it a bit more greasy than I really care for. (I drained off a lot of oil, and then blotted the potatoes with paper towel to get rid of some more.) They did taste very nice, though, once I'd got rid of some of the excess oil and they'd cooled off enough to eat.

The piroshky are leftover from Christmas - my mom made them and left a bunch in the freezer for us. Still tasty, though we pulled out the sauerkraut filled ones, which I don't care for quite as much as the beef/cabbage ones. The green beans were also from the freezer. I'm not so found of them, though, since they just don't cook up as nicely as fresh. They tasted good, but it's a texture thing.