Thursday, November 29, 2012

Baked Ziti

So after we made spaghetti and meatballs, we had a whole lot of sauce left over, and no noodles. Since we wanted to make something a little different, we decided to do baked ziti instead of more spaghetti....I think you will be glad we did!

Here's what you will need:
4 cups of spaghetti sauce (our recipe is here. If you need to make it quick, I will give instructions for a basic sauce at the end of this recipe...)
1 pound of ziti or pene
1 pound whole milk cottage cheese (instead of ricotta. cottage cheese works better)
2 large eggs lightly beaten
3 ounces shaved or shredded parmesan
1/2 cup chopped basil
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz low-moisture mozarella cheese cut into small pieces.
2 cups frozen spinach
8 - 10 meatballs chopped up (optional - we had a few left from our spaghetti dinner)

Place the oven rack in the middle & pre-heat the oven to 350.

Whisk cottage cheese, eggs 1 cup parmesan together in a medium bowl & set aside.

Cook your pasta 1/2 way. About 5 minutes. it should be slightly softened but not fully cooked. Drain pasta & set it aside.

Heat 2 cups of spinach over medium heat until the water is gone.  Chop up meatballs and set aside.

Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in your pasta pot. Heat over medium heat to a simmer and cook until it starts to thicken. 

Remove from heat & add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup of tomato sauce, 3/4 cup of mozarella, 1/2 cup parmesan spinach and meatballs. 

Add your pasta & stir until all your pasta is evenly coated.

Transfer your mixture to a baking dish (we had to use both a 9 x 13" and an 8 x 8" pan)

spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over the pasta and sprinkle with your remaining mozarella and parmesan over the top.

Cover your baking dishes with tin foil & bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil & continue to bake until cheese is golden brown and bubbly - about 20 - 30 minutes.

Remove from oven & cool for 15 - 20 minutes and sprinkle with chopped up basil. Serve!


If you need to make a quick tomato sauce, you will need the following:
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano

Heat oil and garlic in 12" skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat add sugar, salt & pepper and some fresh basil.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chai Coconut Tapioca Brulee (Vegan)

So I was in the mood for something sweet the other night, and wanted to do something a little I thought, Tapioca...and coconut! I was reading some coconut tapioca recipes on the internet, and most of them were vegan (no eggs) so I thought I would give that a try. I never made egg-less tapioca before, but turns out, I like it! Maybe more than the traditional way.

Here's what you need:

1 cup chai tea concentrate mix
1 1/2 cup water
1 can coconut milk (not lite!)
1/2 cup regular tapioca (not instant)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon per ramekin turbinado sugar (for brulee)
1 pinch salt

First put your water, chai and tapioca into a pan and bring to a boil then turn down to a low simmer. 

Keep your mixture moving, stir often. You want to cook your mixture until the tapioca balls are all clear. This will take about 30 minutes. If your mixture gets too thick, go ahead and add a little water to keep it moving.

Once all your tapioca balls are clear, whisk in your coconut milk, add your sugar and pinch of salt. stir it all together and bring it up to a quick simmer. Continue to cook until it thickens (about 5 minutes).
Remove from heat and pour into ramekins, mugs, cups, bowls, etc. Let it cool for about 10 minutes and then place in the fridge to chill.

Once chilled, remove from the refrigerator, sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar each and using a torch, flame the sugar until it just melts. (You want to keep your flame moving around so it doesn't burn).

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Spaghetti Sauce With Meat Balls

 Fall weather is upon us! Nothing sounds better when the weather turns cold than something warm and hearty! All day pasta sauce plus meatballs is a perfect solution!

First off the sauce. Here is what you need:

1 package pork soup bones (neck bones). The grocery store didn't have exactly what we were looking for here, but they did have some beef marrow bones. Not ideal, but they will work for this in a pinch.

4 cans of tomato sauce
2 cans of diced tomatoes

1 small can of tomato paste
fresh basil
3 carrots
1 large onion
3 stalks of celery
6 cloves of garlic
olive oil 
1 tablespoon oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon crushed red chilis
1 star anise
4-6 cloves
(place star anise & cloves in a tea ball for easy removal)
salt and pepper 
1 bottle or 4 cups of red wine. We like to have some boxed wine on hand for cooking. (the bottle in the photo above is for drinking!) 

First you will put a little olive oil, salt and pepper in your pan &  brown your soup bones. As stated before, our store was out of soup bones, so we used some marrow bones, and the pork bones left-over from our Mu Shu dinner.

Once your bones, meat and / or trimmings are browned, and a fond has developed, remove from the pot and add carrots, onion and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and lightly salt and pepper vegetables.  Cook until they just start to sweat.

Here is Tyson's instructional video on how to chop an onion:

As soon as your aromatics start to sweat, pour in all of the red wine.

Put your bones and meat back in.

Add your dry spices, tomato sauce, dice tomatoes, tomato paste.

Stir everything together and bring to a boil. Stir again and turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 3 - 4 hours.

While your sauce is simmering, start on your meatballs.
Here is what you will need:
1lb ground meat (we are using turkey, but pork, beef or chicken will also work)
panade - 2ish slices of stale bread (we used some left-over garlic toasts)   Then cover your bread in whole milk and set aside. Let it really soak up the milk. We started ours before we browned our sauce bones.
4-6 minced cloves of garlic
1/4 cup bread crumbs
handful of finely chopped parsely
1 egg
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese   
1 tsp salt and pepper to taste
First season your meat with salt and pepper. we used about 1 generous pinch of salt each side and a few cranks of fresh pepper.
Place your meat in a large mixing bowl.

Remove the bread from milk and pour remaining milk into your tomato sauce.  Since our bread had a tough crust, we processed the bread in a blender till smooth.  If your bread is really mushy, you could even just squeeze out the milk by hand and throw it in the meat as is.  Add dry bread crumbs,

 egg, parsley, garlic and cheese.

Mix everything together completely to ensure an even distribution of ingredients. Your meatballs should be tender but hold together easily.

Form your meat balls & lay them out on a greased baking tray. 

Bake your meatballs at 350 for about 20 minutes.

 When your sauce is about ready, remove the bones, add the meatballs and simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve over noodles (recipe for home made noodles here) and garnish with fresh basil! (we forgot the basil in this photo)

Home Made Pasta!

So making pasta at home is actually quite easy. Just be careful! Once you have home made pasta, you will never want to go back to store bought!

Here's what you do. You can make as much or as little as you want. Just use this ratio (if you make huge batches, you may have to adjust a little, but for 2 - 6 people, this should hold)

for four adults:
2 cups all purpose flour
4 extra large eggs

The ratio is 2 Extra-large eggs to 1 cup of flour. Regular white, all-purpose flour works the best, but we like to make it out of white whole wheat flour. It adds a little fiber, and it still tastes great. The texture is a little drier, and the noodles are slightly less chewy.

Place your flour in your mixer bowl and add your eggs.

Mix the flour and eggs together with your dough hook. It will take a while, so start early, and let it run.

After the egg is completely mixed into the flour, it will be a little wet.  That's to be expected.  While the hook is spinning in the dough, slowly add flour by the tablespoon full.  In our recipe it took around 3 tablespoons to achieve a proper pasta dough ball.  Just add the flour slowly and the dough will come together.  Your goal should be a slightly sticky, smooth ball. 

Once your dough forms a smooth ball, you will want to hand knead for just 30 seconds or so.

Wrap in plastic wrap & let it sit at room temp for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, un-wrap and coat lightly with flour.

Cut off small pieces and run them through your pasta roller. I use a middle setting for mine, but play with it until you get a noodle texture you like. 

After you flatten your pasta, run it through the noodle cutting side. We mostly make fettucine because the noodles seem to turn out the best. We also have a spaghettini setting, but the noodles tend to break (probably the whole wheat flour we are using....).

When your noodles are cut, lay them out over a bowl so they don't stick together too much. 

You can either dry them and cook later, or you can cook them right away. 

Note: fresh pasta does NOT need to cook as long as store-bought dry pasta. Usually just about 3 minutes. (When the pasta floats it's pretty much done.)