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Monday, December 30, 2013

DIY Farmer's Cheese and Radicchiously Good Lasagna

Pumpkin and Radicchio Lasagna
1 box whole wheat lasagna noodles
Olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small head of radicchio, shredded
2-15 oz cans of organic pumpkin
1/4 cup milk or cream
1 TSP nutmeg
1/2 TSP cayenne pepper
2 cups soft farmer's cheese, or ricotta
1 cup grated Pecorino, divided
2 cups grated Fontina, divided

Cheese making is an amazing process. Different variations on a few simple ingredients can produce wildly different results. Farmer's cheese (a soft white cheese that's a cross between cream cheese and ricotta) is definitely one of the simpler cheeses to make, and there is so much you can do with it. Reduce the draining time for creamier results, mix with fresh herbs, or press for paneer. 

If making your own cheesy goodness is something you have always wanted to try, I highly recommend picking up one of Urban Cheesecraft's DIY kits. They come with everything you need including cheesecloth, citric acid and cheese salt. The hardest part is waiting for your milk to come to the right temperature. Check out Urban Cheesecraft here for recipes or to buy one of their fab kits!

Now that I have all this cheese, it's time to put it to good use. My winter-inspired lasagna pairs sweet pumpkin with bitter radicchio for a radicchiously good meal (sorry, I couldn't resist).  In addition to the fresh farmer's cheese my lasagna needs something melty.   I love using Fontina in baked pastas since it melts beautifully, but doesn't take away from any of the other flavors.  This dish is truly decadent and is perfect for any holiday gathering. Your guests will surely be impressed!  

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook lasagna noodles in salted boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until soft, add radicchio. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a bowl combine pumpkin, milk, nutmeg and cayenne until smooth. In a separate bowl combine the farmer's cheese, 1/2 cup Pecorino and 1 cup of Fontina.

To assemble, coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. spread a thin layer of the pumpkin mixture at the bottom. Begin layering with the noodles, 1/3 of the pumpkin, 1/3 radicchio, and 1/3 cheese mixture and repeat. Top with remaining Pecorino and Fontina. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and broil for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbly.

Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Season, New Inspiration

Pork Cutlets with Apple-Fennel Slaw
6 Boneless pork loin chops, pounded thin
1 Cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 Eggs
1 Cup panko bread crumbs
EVOO for frying
2 Apples
1 Bulb fennel
1 TBS dijon mustard
1 TBS honey
2 TBS sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

This post is a long time coming.  I can't believe almost four months have passed since my last...that time felt like a blur.  I have been cooking a lot, and I've made a lot of great dishes, but the blogging part has not come as easily.  Now I finally have something to write about, which ironically has to do with not being about to write at all!  It's not easy to  come up with an original, compelling for every meal I make.  It's also even harder to make time for it between my busy full time job and wedding planning.  It's time to get back at it!

The fall weather has also inspired me, since it is my favorite cooking season after all.  That means pumpkin-flavored everything, but apples are another seasonal ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes alike.  This slaw is the perfect way to use up all those apples from the orchard and can pretty much be served with any of your favorite fall dishes.  But apples, fennel and pork?  Now that's a match made in a foliage-filled heaven.    

Pound the pork chops very thin and dredge in seasoned flour, egg, then panko.  Fry the cutlets in batches until browned and cooked through.  Let drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Cut apples into match sticks, and slice the fennel bulb thinly.  Set aside in a bowl.  Mix mustard, honey and vinegar and slowly whisk in oil until combined.  Toss dressing with apple and fennel, add chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.

To serve top each cutlet with slaw and enjoy.

Leftover cutlets and slaw make a mean sandwich with some mayo on a warm baguette.  Hello lunch!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Road Tripping

Summer is all about road trips, and there is no better way to make new culinary discoveries than when you're on the road.  And what a discovery we made when we stopped by the Cato Corner Farm in Colchester, CT to try their famous raw milk cheeses.  

The limited batch of farmstead cheeses range from mild to funky, all unlike anything we've ever tasted before.  If you're in the area I highly recommend stopping by for a tasting and to see their adorable Jersey cows.  You can also find their products in farmer's markets around Connecticut and New York.  

We brought home some of the Dairyere, similar to Gruyere, which was hands-down our favorite.  This cheese deserved a proper spread so I served straight-up with crostini, fig jam, pate, and green apple.  Add some wine for the perfect post road trip meal!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Dinner, By Way of Saigon

Vietnamese Banh Mi
Adapted from The Sandwich King
Pickled Vegetables:
1 Cup distilled white vinegar
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS kosher salt
1 Cup julienned daikon radish
1 Cup julienned carrots
1/2 Cucumber, cut into half moons
Spicy Mayo:
1 Cup mayo
1-2 TBS Sriracha
1/2 TSP sesame oil
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 Onion, diced
4 Cloves garlic
1 TBS grated ginger
1/4 Cup hoisin
1/4 Cup fish sauce
1/3 Cup chicken stock
1/4 Cup pickling liquid from veggies
1 LB ground turkey (or pork, chicken, diced tofu)
Black pepper
To Serve:
8-In French baguettes
Thinly sliced jalapeño
Cilantro leaves
Crushed peanuts
 Makes about 4 sandwiches

The banh mi may just be the perfect sandwich - warm crusty bread, salty-sweet meat filling, crisp veggies, and a spicy kick to finish it off.  I have never had an authentic banh mi before, but according to Rich, I came pretty close.  The different textures, temperatures, and flavors in each and every bite are highly addictive.  I think I may need to do some extensive research on this so I can perfect this dish. 

So what is the banh mi exactly?  The traditional sandwich was born out of the French colonial period, combining traditional French ingredients like baguettes, mayonnaise, and pate with native Vietnamese ingredients like cilantro, chili peppers, and pickled carrots.  Typical fillings include pork belly, grilled meat, pate, fried eggs, and tofu accompanied by fresh cucumber cilantro, pickled shredded carrot and daikon.  Condiments include mayonnaise, spicy chili sauce and cheese.  It's a sandwich with endless possibilities.

There are a lot of components but pretty much everything in this recipe can be made ahead of time, plus the pickled veggies get even better the next day.  I used ground turkey in place of pork since it was what I had, but feel free to get creative here.  Make extra pickled vegetables while you're at it and put them on everything.  

In a saucepan heat sugar and salt in the vinegar until dissolved.  Pour over prepared vegetables and let sit for at least an hour.

Mix mayo, sriracha, and sesame oil in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Heat oil in sauté pan.  Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until soft.  Add the garlic and ginger and sauté one minute more.  Add the pickling liquid and let reduce by half.  Stir in the hoisin, fish sauce, stock, and black pepper.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened.  Add your protein (breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon if needed) and cook through.

Now, for the assembly.  Spread the mayo onto each baguette.  Fill with turkey and top with pickled vegetables.  Add jalapeno, cilantro, and peanuts as desired.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Adventures in Juicing

Yes, the guy and girl who love their pizza, meatballs, and pancakes have gone liquid.  We are on day two of The BluePrint Cleanse and it''s...why did I agree to do this again? I'm starving! Consuming nothing but liquid for two whole days has been intense, but I'm pretty proud of us for sticking to it (so far).

Back to why we're doing this. As healthy as we try to be, we really love to eat and tend to over-indulge whether it's dinner out with friends or experimenting in the kitchen.  And after watching the documentary "Fat Sick and Nearly Dead," we thought a little detox would help us atone for our health sins.  I highly recommend if you haven't seen it yet.  This guy's story is amazing and it really makes you think twice about what you put in your body.  While you're at it you can catch "Food Inc." and "Vegucated" but then you may never want to eat anything again...ever.  

While we probably won't be doing The BluePrint Cleanse again anytime soon, we did invest in a juicer to keep-up our health kick. Don't worry, I'm not going to abandon solid food forever. I'm actually quite excited to use it for cooking and baking. There is so much you can do with fresh juice.  You can even use the remaining pulp for soups and muffins!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

A New Spin on Cooking, and Marmalade Too

Shiitake Marmalade
From Modernist Cuisine at Home
5 1/8 Cups shiitake mushroom caps
4 TBS unsalted butter
1/3 Cup shallots, minced
100 mL (3/8 cup) water
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TSP honey
1/4 Cup chives, sliced thin
1/2 TBS tarragon, minced
Salt to taste
Makes about 1 cup; will keep for 3 days, refrigerated.

I love collecting cookbooks, but I truly believe this may be the last cookbook I will ever need.  Modernist Cuisine At Home, the little brother of the famed Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, is 11 pounds and 300 plus pages of culinary porn.  While the food seems straight forward at first (think mac and cheese and burgers), these recipes are like nothing you have ever seen before.  The authors explain the science behind cooking and even improve upon well-known dishes using unusual techniques and gadgets.  Whipping siphons are used to create perfect scrambled eggs, pressure cookers caramelize vegetables in a flash, and blow torches add fantastic crust to sous vide meats.  I cannot wait to fill my kitchen with new toys and start experimenting!

To get started I thought I would start with something simple, like this shiitake marmalade.  This earthy and complex condiment can instantly upgrade anything from roast chicken to omelets   I decided to use for an easy appetizer with goat cheese crostini.  You can also apply the same technique to make bacon marmalade.  Yum!

Pulse the mushrooms in food processor until they are just minced.  Heat butter in pan and sauté mushrooms until lightly browned and dry (about 15 minutes).  Add shallots and cook 8-10 minutes more, or until tender. Stir in water, soy sauce and honey.  Simmer until thick, but still fluid.  Fold in herbs and season with salt.  Serve warm.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Cold Blizzard, Hot Soup

Nemo has descended upon the Northeast, and I can't think of a better day than today to share some warm and comforting soup recipes to help get you through the storm.

French Onion Soup
1/2 Stick unsalted butter
2 LBS medium onions, thinly sliced
3 Springs fresh thyme
Bay leaf
3/4 TSP salt
1/2 TSP pepper
2 TSP flour
3/4 Cup dry white wine
1/2 Cup apple butter
1/4 Cup soy sauce
4 Cups low-sodium beef broth
1-1/2 Cups water

For Serving:
Baguette slices
Grated Gruyère cheese

Three words.  French.  Onion. Soup.  I put a twist on the classic with a few "secret" ingredients borrowed from America's Test Kitchen.  Apple butter and soy sauce may sound weird, but they add complexity and yumminess that can't be achieved with store-bought broth alone.  Serve with extra cheesy bread to soak up that delicious broth!

Heat butter over medium-low heat in a heavy soup pot.  Add onion, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.  Cook onions, stirring frequently, until they are soft and and nicely browned, about 45 minutes.  Add the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add the wine, apple butter and soy sauce, cook for a few more minutes.  Add the broth and water and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Discard the thyme and bay leaf.

When ready to serve, top each baguette slice with the cheese and broil until brown and bubbly.  Serve on top of soup.

Creamy Broccoli-White Bean Soup
Adapted from Whole Living
1 LB Broccoli, cut into small florets, stems peeled and sliced
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Yellow onion, diced
1 Can white beans, drained
3 Cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 Cup fresh parsley
2 TBS lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Far from your average cream of broccoli, this soup will remind you that springtime is just a few short months away with its bright flavor and color.  The beans create the creamy texture, so no actual cream is necessary.  Oh, and some cheesy bread on the side wouldn't hurt here either!

Steam the broccoli until bright green, about 3 minutes. Shock in an ice bath, drain, and set aside.

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent. Add beans and stock; bring to a simmer. Add the parsley and lemon juice. Remove from heat and add broccoli. Purée in batches with your blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ravioli 101

Broccoli Rabe-Ricotta Ravioli
Fresh pasta dough (recipe below)
Flour for dusting
2 Cups part skim ricotta, drained
1 Cup steamed broccoli rabe, finely chopped and drained well
1 Egg
1 TSP lemon zest
2 TBS parsley, chopped
1 TSP Salt

It's another great day for a project; a great excuse to dust off the old pasta machine and try my new ravioli stamps.  Yes, making your own ravioli takes little bit of practice and a lot of patience.  Despite the frustration, the results are well-worth it.  Now I have a stock pile in my freezer so I can enjoy whenever I want.  There is something kind of therapeutic about rolling out the pasta too, especially if you have a hand crank machine (great way to get out aggression)!

Now when it comes to filling, there are endless options.  I wanted to try something a little different, while keeping it simple.  So I'm putting a twist on the classic spinach-ricotta filled ravioli by using bitter broccoli rabe instead.

Mix the ricotta, broccoli rabe, egg, zest, parsley and salt in a large bowl until combined.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Divide the dough into quarters.  Roll out one portion at a time to create sheets.  It should be thin, but not so thin it's difficult to work with.  Place your pasta sheets on a well-floured surface.  Using a cookie cutter or ravioli stamp as your guide, drop 1 tablespoon of  filling on the bottom sheet of dough.  Lay a second sheet of pasta over the filling and begin to seal the edges around the filling.  Use a cookie cutter and/or ravioli stamp to cut out the ravioli, making sure the edges are sealed.  Place on a  parchment-lined or well-floured cookie sheet.

Bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil.  Cook the pasta for 2-3 minutes, or when they begin to float.  Serve with butter and fresh herbs or marinara sauce.  If not enjoying immediately, flash freeze on the baking sheet before storing in freezer bags.

Mark Bittman's Pasta Dough
2 Cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 TSP salt
2 Eggs
3 Egg yolks

I've tried a few different pasta dough recipes, but I've found that Mark Bittman's produces the best results.  It's nearly fool-proof if you're making in a food processor, and the dough is easy to work with thanks to the extra egg yolks.

Add flour and salt to the food processor and pulse once or twice.  Add all the eggs and yolks and run the machine for 30 seconds until the dough starts for form a ball.  If it's too grainy add a few drops of water, if it's too wet add a touch more flour.  Turn-out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.  Let rest for 30 minutes.  Begin to roll out immediately or store in the fridge for up to 24 hours until ready to use.

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About Me

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The Hungry Yuppies, Annie and Rich, are a young couple from CT who are self-proclaimed foodies. Annie is the chef, and Rich is her willing taste tester. Juggling a full time job in the city wasn't going to get in the way of Annie's love for cooking. It's about eating well whether you have just 30 minutes on a Monday night, or all day on a rainy Sunday.