Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes

I've been trying to lose weight. Counting calories, exercising, doing everything right.  But there are times when you just want to eat whatever you want to eat.  I have been sort of stumped in the kitchen of late (thus the lack of new posts) and wanted to make something the kids liked for dinner.  I have a list of 22 things they will eat, but amazingly, not many corresponding recipes -- so I thought I'd address the issue. I have on the list "Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes" but couldn't find whatever recipe I made that the kids liked... so I looked on food network and Ina Garten came through with a very calorie laden (but delicious) recipe that was universally adored. (Maybe without the olives next time)


    * 1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
    * Kosher salt
    * Olive oil
    * 1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
    * 3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
    * 1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
    * 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

    * 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
    * 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    * 6 tablespoons good olive oil
    * 1 garlic clove, diced
    * 1 teaspoon capers, drained
    * 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    * 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    * 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    * 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Glazed Salmon, Rice Pilaf, Chocolate Cake

We don't entertain enough. I really don't feel like I'm very good at it, and it seems to make my husband sort of crabby. It's like exercise -- hard to initiate but once you get into it (and when it's over) you're really glad you did it.  We had three couples over last night, and it worked out pretty well.  I served glazed salmon from a recipe in Cook's Illustrated; rice pilaf from the New York Times cookbook and roasted asparagus.  At the last minute, I also included wilted spinach.

I was also craving a chocolate cake -- so on Friday night I made (from scratch) a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting (also NY Times).

We survived, the food turned out pretty well (the cake was bit dry, but I think the salmon was perfect) -- and our guests stayed until midnight. I think it was successful... and I want to invite more people over now. Mostly to eat all the cheese and crackers that this group didn't touch!

Glazed Salmon
1 t. light brown sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. cornstarch
4 center cut salmon fillets (6 to 8 oz. each)
1 t. vegetable oil
1 recipe glaze

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine brown sugar, salt, and conrnstarch in small bowl. Pat salmon dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over top of flesh side of salmon, rubbing to distribute.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place salmon, flesh side down, in skillet and cook until well browned, about 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully flip salmon and cook on skin side for 1 minute.

3. Remove skillet from heat and spoon glaze evenly over salmon fillets. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until center of thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees on instant-read termometere and is still translucent when cut into with paring knife, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer fillets to platter or individual plates and serve.

Asian Barbeque Glaze
2 T. ketchup
2 T. hoisin sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. light brown sugar
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. toasted sesame oil
2 t. Asian chili-garlic sauce
1 t. grated fresh ginger

Whisk ingredients together in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm

Rice Pilaf
1/3 c. finely chopped onions
6 T. butter
2 1/4 c. rice
4 1/2 c. boiling chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Saute the onions in the butter in a heavy casserole until tender and transparent but not brown.
3. Add the rice and continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until rice grains turn opaque. Do not allow rice to brown.
4. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 15 or 20 minutes longer, or until rice has absorbed all the stock.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
2 c. sifted cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 c. plus 2 T. cocoa
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. plus 2 T. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. warm water
2/3 c. milk
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Sift together in the bowl of an electric mixer the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa and sugar. Add the shortening, water, milk, eggs and vanilla and blend on very low speed until the ingredients are moistened. Mix 3 minutes on medium speed, scraping the bowl ferqently to ensure complete blending. Do not include scraping time in the 3 minutes.
3. Pour the mixture into two 9-inch layer cake pans that have been greased and lined with wax paper circles cut 1/8 inc smaller than the bottoms of the pans.
4. Bake until the cake rebounds when pressed gently in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pans on a cake rack 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Cool and frost as desired.
2 eggs