Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Out-Of-This-World Roasted Tomato Sauce

You know those recipes that are pure perfection? Well, this is one of them! Seriously though, I made this recipe because I had fresh ripe tomatoes coming out of my ears, and it totally caught me off guard how dang delicious this Roasted Tomato Sauce was! Perhaps it was because I had some really good garden-ripe tomatoes, I'm not sure, but this is my new go to recipe for making tomato sauce.

Things started out beautifully with a gorgeous display of fresh cut tomatoes glistening on the roasting sheet. A hefty scattering of garlic and a few herbs, salt and pepper really jazzed things up! I popped it into the oven and within a few minutes I began to worry.  I could smell garlic and not in a good way.  I felt like the garlic was going to burn and ruin the sauce, but it was too late to do anything about it so I left it all to roast.

Then I had another moment when I was pushing the tomatoes through the sieve and the sauce was nothing but pure liquid but I forged on. Hugh talks about the different consistency and suggests cooking the sauce down on the stove top to thicken it so I did just that.

The sauce was cooking down when my husband walked in and said "wow, what is that delicious smell?" Now, my husband is not fond of tomato sauce, unless it's covering a plate of pasta, so it was huge when he stuck a spoon in the sauce and started swooning. He said, "that sauce is incredible, it's perfectly seasoned." Of course I stuck my spoon in immediately after and discovered he was right. In fact, we both poured a little bit in a small cup and sipped it like a soup. Roasting those tomatoes really brings out the flavor! We debated eating it as a soup right then and there, but decided to save it for pasta.

The tomato sauce was heavenly over some pasta, but it was even better the next day when my mom and I got the idea to make some Italian-inspired Parmesan-Basil Fried Green Tomatoes (click on the link for the recipe-) and dip them them into this roasted tomato sauce! Doubling down on tomatoes was even better than we imagined and we now have a new favorite snack! I can't wait to get a new batch of tomatoes so I can make both the sauce and the fried green tomatoes again. It was a lovely combination. A summertime delight for sure!

Roasted Tomato Sauce
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Makes around 2 cups

3 to 4 pounds ripe tomatoes, larger ones halved
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
A couple sprigs of marjoram
A few sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lay the tomatoes, cut side up if halved, on a baking sheet. Scatter over the garlic and herbs, and trickle over the oil. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Put the baking sheet in the oven for about an hour, maybe a bit longer, until the tomatoes are completely soft and pulpy, and starting to crinkle and caramelize on top.

Set the tomatoes aside to cool for half an hour or so.  Then tip them into a large sieve set over a bowl and rub the pulp through with a wooden spoon, or use a food mill. Discard the skins and seeds. The sauce will seem like liquid, and that is fine, you can cook the sauce down on the stove until it thickens, if you desire.

Theme: Dippity Do Dah! @ IHCC

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pan-Roasted Asparagus with a Crispy Fried Egg {Perfection On A Plate}

This recipe is all about texture and flavor.

Crunchy, cheesy, herbaceous breadcrumbs with the kick of red pepper flakes and a hint of lemon zest sit atop a crispy-bottomed fried egg that oozes with yolk down over the tops of pan-fried asparagus spears. I'm telling ya....this is the perfect breakfast or brunch dish. This is really the perfect anytime dish. 

I was wowed by how good this was! In fact, this was so good, I instantly felt mad at myself for not making it sooner. Do you ever do that? I do. After that first bite I found myself thinking "why oh why did I allow this to sit on my "to make list" for so long? Nonsense I tell ya.

There's just something about the crunch of the breadcrumbs and the oozing egg yolk that is the perfect topper for the asparagus. It just really wakes up those taste buds and keep you wanting more.

It's one of those dishes that is kinda naughty but kinda angelic. Widely satisfying, but still light. You know, one of those rare dishes that strike the perfect balance. The kind you make again and again and highly recommend. Perfection on a plate.

Pan-Fried Asparagus with a Crispy Fried Egg
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

Breadcrumb Gremolata
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon lemon zest (1 lemon)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed
salt and pepper, to taste
4 large eggs

For the Gremolata: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and olive oil and toast, stirring often with a wooden spoon until golden brown. Place in a small bowl and while still hot, add the lemon zest, red pepper flakes and salt. Mix together and cool the mixture to room temperature. Stir in the parsley and cheese.

For the Asaparagus: Wipe the pan with a clean dish towel. Place over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the asparagus and salt to taste.  Cook, stirring and flipping often with tongs until the asparagus is bright green, cooked through and slightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Divide the asparagus among four serving plates. To the same pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Crack 2 of the egg into the pan, being careful as it may splatter, sprinkle with salt and reduce the heat slightly and cook until the edges are light brown and crispy and the whites are just set, 2 to 3 minutes. The yolk should still be runny. Repeat for the remaining 2 eggs. Using a slotted spatula, slide an egg on each plate. Sprinkle each dish with the breadcrumb gremolata and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Just For Kicks {Spicy Favorites From the Stirring The Pot Kitchen}

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we're celebrating spicy dishes that give either a little bit, or a lot of kick! I'm having company this week and didn't have enough time to throw together a new dish, so I'm recapping with five of my favorite spicy dishes, as well as a shout out to a dish I've mentioned before, that are perfect for the summer months!

Here in the Stirring the Pot household, we love spicy dishes! They are simply are favorites. I've mentioned this dish several times on my blog, but Madhur Jaffrey's Delicious Chicken Bits is hands down our favorite dish I've ever shared on this blog. It's spicy mainly because it has quite a bit of cayenne pepper in it, but also because it is full of other spices like cumin, paprika, garlic powder, turmeric, black pepper, salt, and thyme. It is a celebration of spices and is a must make for fans of spicy food.

And now onto my five favorites, in no particular order: (click on the link to be directed to the original post and recipe)
This whipped cream cheese is heavenly. Chopped up serrano pepper and garlic give it a truly wonderful flavor profile and it is remarkable and addictive on bagels for breakfast. Of course, this cream cheese is wonderful on just about anything. Trust will not last long!

Light and delicious veggie enchiladas with a super-fiery-not-for-the-faint-of-heart habanero salsa to set your mouth on fire! The avocado is not's necessary to cool your mouth down!

This burger is a wonderful mix of flavors: chorizo, chipotles in adobo, poblano chiles, onions, and garlic.....and ooey gooey Monterey jack cheese. A tasty way to enjoy a burger this summer!

A lovely and unique meal for the slow cooker, this chicken is flavored with tomatillos, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, and a splash of jalapeno pickling juice. The chicken is fall off the bone tender and this is a light and fresh meal that is perfect for spring and summer.

 A light and easy tomato sauce made with a hint of garlic and pickled jalapenos is the perfect way to jazz up fish for a nice light summer meal. This was a very pleasant dish and a great way to add a little kick to your regular old weeknight dinner routine. The potatoes really round it out and make it a nice little meal. 

What are some of your spicy favorites?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Potatoes with "Deconstructed Pesto"

My mom is definitely the one with the "green thumb". In fact, for some time, I think my neighbor's thought she was the lady of the house mainly because she was the one outside planting, pruning, watering, and weeding. It's not that I didn't want to be the one with the green thumb. It's more because I wasn't any good at it and the more I tried the more mom came behind me, cleaning up my messes and fixing my mistakes, as moms are prone to do.

Years ago, mom dug a small herb garden off the back porch and she planted chives, oregano, cilantro, basil, and mint. The herbs did well, but over time we widdled it down to chives, basil, and mint, mostly because they thrived the most and we liked them best.

If I ever got real busy and forgot about the herb garden mom always let me know. She would cut huge bouquets of fresh herbs and place them all over the kitchen, and I'd always laugh because it was her way of telling me they needed to be used.

This summer my mom's been sick and she hasn't spent too much time outside in the garden. Just last week the doctor's told us her cancer was terminal. They say we have time, and we are thankful for that, but we are all still in shock and beside ourselves. I've spent many hours staring into space since that day, but the only thing that really helps me is getting in the kitchen.

My mom's always been my blogging buddy. Since the very beginning. The one I cook for. My bravest taste tester. My biggest fan. So this week when I questioned what in the world I could make, I thought of her and what she would do, if only she felt better. I found my answering staring out at the herb garden. It was in need of some love. I started on the basil first and was happy when I found this delicious Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall dish of Potatoes with "Deconstructed Pesto".

It reminded me of another dish I made back in 2011 when the basil went crazy and mom went outside and filled vases upon vases of basil for me to use. The whole house reeked of basil, and we love the scent, but oh boy...there is such a thing as too much and it makes me laugh now thinking about it. That week I think everything I cooked had basil in it. But of all the dishes we tried we tried that week, the one standout was Ina Garten's Basil Potato Puree. We fell in love with those potatoes. In fact, we still talk about that dish from time to time. Mom always calls it a "special dish" and/or "the freshest potatoes ever tasted." I linked that one above, because if I had my pick between the two potato dishes I'd pick that one, but both of these are tasty summer pleasures.

As for me, I'm heading back out into the herb garden. The mint is out of control and I think I got a few more empty vases...

Potatoes with "Deconstructed Pesto"
River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall
Serves 2-4

1 pounds baby potatoes, cut to uniform size if needed
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
good handful of basil, shredded
generous squeeze of lemon juice
good handful of grated Parmesan

 Place uniformly cut (potatoes need to be similar sizes to cut in the same time) into a medium-sized saucepan, cover with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes, until tender.  Drain the potatoes and set aside.

Put the same saucepan back onto the stove top and add the olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper, to taste. Allow the garlic to cook for around 1 minute, then add potatoes back into the saucepan and stir in the shredded basil, some lemon juice, and some grated Parmesan cheese. Taste, adjust seasoning (usually potatoes always need more salt) and serve. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Donna Hay's Beef and Chorizo Burgers w/ Chipotle Mayo

Years back, when we were cooking the recipes of Donna Hay, my friend Michelle of Ms.enPlace shared Donna's Beef & Chorizo Burgers and they looked incredible.  The recipe was simple enough, basically just two simple ingredients: beef and chorizo, but we all know how much flavor chorizo imparts, so I knew without a doubt that this recipe would be a winner with my family.

The original recipe calls for a beetroot relish but Michelle opted to make a Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce for her burgers, which I think is perfect! So I'm taking a nod from Michelle, swapping the sour cream for mayo, and making a chipotle mayo.

Now let me tell ya, these burgers are the perfect way to switch up your burger game. I love a good old-fashioned cheeseburger, but in the summer time when burger season is really in high gear, it sure is nice to change it up from time to time. With all that flavor I didn't even miss the cheese! I highly recommend these burgers for one of your upcoming cookouts!

Beef & Chorizo Burgers w/ Chipotle Mayo
Recipe by Donna Hay, found on Ms. enPlace
Serves 4

For the Burgers
1 pound ground beef
6 oz. fresh Mexican chorizo
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil
4 hamburger buns
lettuce leaves, or any of top..toppings of your choice

Chipotle Mayo
1/2 cup mayo
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
1 teaspoon adobo sauce

For the Chipotle Mayo: In a small bowl place all the mayo ingredients and mix until blended. Chill until ready to use.

For the Burgers: Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat.  Add the ground beef and chorizo to a mixing bowl. Season the meat mixture with salt and pepper and gently combine with your hands (try not to overwork it). Divide mixture into 4 portions and shape into patties.

Brush both sides of the burgers with olive oil and place on the grill or grill pan. Grill to desired doneness (about 7-8 minutes for medium well). While the burgers cook, brush the inside surfaces of the buns. Place them on the grill when the burgers have just a couple of minutes left.

Dress the burgers with chipotle mayo and or lettuce or toppings of your choice and enjoy!

Happy Fourth of July to everyone who is celebrating!!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Swiss Chard, Green Onion, and Cheese Tart

Our local Whole Foods decided to close their old store and open up a huge, brand-spanking new, double-the-size store right down the road at an upscale shopping center. Now between you and me, I much prefer the older and smaller store, finding it much easier to to get in and out of, but I realize that everything is all about being out with the old and in with the new lately, so, so be it. Focus on the positive, right? The new store, which is double the size, will obviously have double the merchandise and I'm sure I'll like that. Also, big bonus, the old store had a MAJOR sale before they closed, marking everything down to 50% so they could clean their shelves before closing!

Fifty percent off at Whole Foods is exciting news for me so I ready and waiting. When I got there the shelves were already starting to thin out. I was able to find some beautiful Swiss chard, fresh cherries, and grapes. Racing through the hoards of people I made my way to the freezer section to score some gluten free goodies for my son and I found lots of Dufour puff pastry, and since puff pastry can be pricey and Dufour is known to be the best, I grabbed several boxes.  Puff pastry stores well in the freezer and is fabulous to have on hand!

I've always been in awe of Whole Foods artisan chocolate aisle and they did have quite a bit of chocolate left to chose from. I will confess I spent most of my time in the chocolate aisle, looking over all the choices and I must say I ended up with about 15 bars of artisan chocolate in my cart. I mean how can you pass it up when it's 50% off. That's not likely to happen again! At the checkout I scored big on a few $15 cooking magazines, which were also half off, and cheered with delight when my total, which was $250, quickly became $125. Never has my cart at Whole Foods been that full and I was more than pleased with my haul.

On my way home I was brainstorming a way to use both my Swiss Chard and puff pastry and when I came across Hugh's Lettuce, Green Onion, and Cheese Tart I was inspired. I decided to swap his pastry dough for puff pastry (I can't be bothered to make pastry anyway) and also swap the lettuce for the Swiss Chard, and this tart was born.

Flaky puff pastry, colorful Swiss Chard, artisan English Cheddar, a layer of green onions, together with a pinch and a dash of salt and pepper, and this made for one delectable meal. I see many more puff pastry tarts in my future!

Swiss Chard, Green Onion, and Cheese Tart
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
Serves 4-6

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon canola/olive oil
1 bunch Swiss Chard, rinsed and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter
4 or 5 green onions, rinsed and sliced
4 ozs. or 1/2 cup English Cheddar, grated
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out thawed puff pastry to 1/8 inch so that it fills a 10" tart pan.  Place it into the tart pan, cut off the excess, and reserve the excess for topping the tart later.  Place the tart pan with the puff pastry, and any excess puff pastry, in the freezer for 10 minutes.
 In the meantime, you will need a sheet of parchment paper and some beans to make a pie weight so that you can place them in the tart pan and keep the pastry from raising while baking. Place the tart, with the pie weight into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Then remove the pie weight and bake for another 5, or until puff pastry is golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

Make the filling.  In a large pan, add 1 tablespoon of canola or olive oil to the pan, along with the Swiss Chard, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until wilted and tender. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, for flavor. Using a slotted spoon, arrange the Swiss Chard into the tart shell.

Add the sliced green onions to the hot pan and saute for a minute or so.  Layer the green onions over the Swiss Chard, then top the tart with the grated cheese.  

In a medium bowl, beat two eggs, one egg yolk, and the cream and milk.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Carefully pour this mixture into the tart shell (you may not need all of it). Decorate the top of the tart with the remaining puff pastry dough. I cut mine into squares and just arranged them on top, but feel free to make whatever design you like. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Theme: A Pinch Of This, A Dash Of That

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Top Five Asian Dishes!

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are celebrating Asian Dishes this week. This past week my family and I have been gone on family vacation. While we had an absolutely fantastic time visiting both Gettysburg and Hershey, PA we did come home to bad news regarding my mom's health so I wasn't really up to making a new dish this week.  However, I didn't want this week's theme to go by unnoticed because Asian Dishes are some of my family's absolute favorites (plus I needed a distraction)! So, below is a roundup of my family's Top Five Asian Dishes!

(Please click on the recipe name to be directed to the original post)

Madhur Jaffrey's Delicious Chicken Bits is hands down the BIGGEST hit I've ever made on my blog. I have been asked by my family to make these chicken bits over and over again. In fact, if I ask them what they want on the menu they always request this dish. The chicken is spicy and flavorful and perfect with rice and veggies. We lovingly refer to it as Indian Chicken due to all the delicious spices.  I've made this dish more than any other dish on my blog!

These dip-worthy chicken patties are a lot of fun as an appetizer or as part of a main dish.  Loads of fun to eat they are a great hit with anyone!

If the name Most Delicious Meat Cubes doesn't get your attention then think about a crispy flavor-packed exterior and a tender meaty interior. These Most Delicious Meat Cubes are similar to carnitas, but with Indian spices are they are delectable! I urge anyone to try them!

This Chicken with Garlic and Black Pepper reminds me of the Delicious Chicken Bits above, just with a different flavor profile. In fact, while my family enjoys the spicier Indian flavors of the Delicious Chicken Bits the most, I prefer this garlic and black pepper version. Both chicken dishes pack a flavor punch and are quick easy weeknight meals that go well with rice and veggies.

And these babies...well, I didn't mean to post a carnivorous meaty roundup, but sometimes it is all about the meat, especially when it is packed with flavor like these bad boys.  You can actually see all the flavor running through these meatballs like little pieces of confetti. I think the picture is all the convincing you need to whip up a batch. They are dunkalicious!

These are my favorite Asian Dishes. 

I'd love for you to share some of yours!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Two-Cheese Quesadillas with Chorizo and Poblano

Tortillas keep well in the fridge and I almost always have them on hand.  In fact, it's far more likely for me to have tortillas on hand than actual sliced bread. We use them for wrapping up breakfast burritos, lunch wraps, burritos, tacos, and last but not least, endless varieties of quesadillas.

If you have a tortilla, odds are you have some bits and bobs and some leftover cheese to make a quesadilla with.  I've made plain cheese quesadillas, veggie quesadillas, bean quesadillas, chicken, beef, pork... you name it. I had never made a chorizo quesadilla until today...and I must tell you it was one of our favorites!

These Two-Cheese Quesadillas with Chorizo and Poblano were a hit with the whole family!  Of course, if you've had chorizo before than you know that anytime chorizo is involved, it is a flavor explosion! Pair that with two kinds of creamy ooey-gooey cheese, and a slight kick from the poblano and you have a pairing that is notches above the rest!

Two-Cheese Quesadillas with Chorizo and Poblano Chile
Adapted from What's For Dinner?
by Curtis Stone
Serves 4

canola oil
12 ounces fresh Mexican-style chorizo, casings removed
1 poblano chile, seeded and cut lengthwise into long thin strips
salt and pepper, to taste
2-1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
Four 9 inch flour tortillas

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of canola oil, then add the chorizo and cook, breaking it up into bite-size pieces with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a bowl, Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet (mine had pretty much zero fat - add canola oil if needed).

Add the chile to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for around 5-8 minutes, or tender and slightly charred.  Remove from heat.

Meanwhile heat a large griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Mix the Jack cheese and Mozzarella cheese together. Brush one side of each tortilla with oil (or butter). Turn the tortillas oil side down on the work surface.

For each quesadilla, sprinkle a heaping 1/2 cup of the cheese mixture over the bottom half of a tortilla and top with one-fourth each of the chorizo and chiles, then another heaping 1/2 cup of the cheese mixture. Fold the top half of the tortilla over the filling and press lightly to compact.

Working in batches, place the quesadillas on the griddle and cook, turning halfway through cooking, for a total of about 6 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese is melted.  Transfer to a cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve hot.

Theme: May Potluck!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cavatappi with Kale Ragu

Stirring the Pot is 9 years old this year, and the last time I checked, I had shared almost 900 recipes over the years! Now, from time to time my husband will many more recipes can you try? Haven't you run out yet?  The answer is always the same: NO!

In fact, from time to time I have been known to have one recurring dream. It's always the same. In my dream I'm running from someone who is trying to kill me and my one request is "No. No. You can't kill me yet. I have way too many recipes left to cook."  Now I've shared this dream with regular everyday people and they look at me like I have two heads, but I know my fellow cooks and food lovers will totally understand. My recipe list is never-ending! My Pinterest boards are exploding and it is quite realistic, even if I live to be 100, that I will never get to all the recipes on my list! 

Of course, saying that, from time to time I will share similar recipes, the same type of dish but by a different chef, or with another variation. I've shared endless versions of mac and cheese and I'm sure they'll be more. I've also shared a couple versions of pot roast, and of course, roast chicken.

I've also shared a very similar version of this Cavatappi with Kale Ragu before. Back in 2010, Mario Batali came out with his Molto Gusto cookbook and in it was the most delicious recipe for Pennette with Swiss Chard Ragu.  Having never had a swiss chard ragu before, I was curious and set out to make it straight away! It was love at first bite and when I posted it, I regaled it as one of the most delicious dishes I had made all year! So, when I noticed that Hugh had a similar version for a kale ragu in his River Cottage Veg cookbook, I knew it must be made.

And you know what? This Cavatappi with Kale Ragu was equally delicious!  The recipes were very much the same, with the major difference being just the difference between kale and swiss chard. So, if you're looking for a killer pasta dish, then I would highly suggest either one (click the link to be redirected to the swiss chard recipe). This pasta has texture, incredible flavor, is quite cheesy, and is ultimately comforting! Need more convincing...the whole pot should costs less than $5! A win-win all around! Make it. You won't be sorry!

Cavatappi with Kale Ragu
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
Serves 4-6

1 big bunch of kale
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 fresh red chile, or red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, finely slivered
salt and black pepper, to taste
10 ounces Cavatappi or other pasta
butter, to taste
Parmesan cheese, to taste
*1 cup pasta water, reserved from cooking pasta

Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil so that you're ready to cook the pasta while the sauce is coming together. Remove the thick stems from the kale and slice into shreds.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the chile and garlic and some salt and pepper, and continue to cook for 3minutes, until the garlic is no longer raw.

When the onion is almost cooked, add the pasta to the pan of boiling water and cook until al dente, adding the greens to the pan about 3 minutes before the pasta is done cooking. At this point I used a 1 cup measure to ladle out some of the pasta cooking water. I added this water to the kale mixture, along with a good-sized knob of butter and a fair amount of Parmesan cheese to make a creamy mixture.

Drain the pasta and in the pan with the kale until thoroughly mixed. Check for seasoning, adding more pasta water to make it creamier, or perhaps more salt and pepper, and or cheese, if needed.  Serve immediately with lots of grated cheese!

Theme: Escape To River Cottage

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Welsh Rarebit {Two Ways + Endless Variations}

Oftentimes, when I'm out for drinks, I find myself craving a little something cheesy. Nothing too heavy, but something with a little bit of heft to it, and usually a little naughty. This Welsh Rarebit is just the thing. Cheese, glorious bubbly melted cheese, served over toasty hearty bread and maybe even some veggies. It's just a thing of beauty, really.

Hugh shares three ways to add veggies and change up your rarebit: tomatoes, celery, and kale or broccolini. All of these are good choice, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and say you could easily use about anything hanging out in your fridge. Eggs of any kind, cooked peppers (bell or jalapeno), bits of meat, slices of apple or pear, spinach, artichokes, and even olives would be lovely. The sky is really the limit! Always feel free to make it your own!

This time around I opted to follow two of Hugh's recipes, tomato and kale. While I do believe that tomato is the most common, and also the most well-liked; I'm willing to say that I love the combo of greens with cheese way more than the tomato version. Either way you simply cannot go wrong.

There a couple of things worth nothing. First, use a really good English Cheddar. I used an English Cheddar straight from Dorset.  Next, do not worry when the butter, flour, and milk mixture resembles glue, or straight up paste. This is exactly what you want! When you add the cheese to the mixture you will have to use a lot of muscle to stir it into the "sauce" and get it to melt. The cheese sauce isn't going to seem very saucy when you spread it on the bread and that is exactly the texture you're going for! Don't worry, this is a thick and luscious sauce that is so dreamy and satisfying!  Slather it on some good toasted bread and enjoy as is or with veggies, bits of meat, and/or egg. This Welsh Rarebit is a real treat!

Welsh Rarebit
Adapted from River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Serves 4

1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 onion
salt and black pepper, to taste
3-1/2 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 ounces fairly strong English cheddar, grated
1/2 teaspoon English mustard, or to taste
dash of Worcestershire sauce
4 slices of good bread or 4 small flat breads

Put the milk in a saucepan, with the bay leaf and onion if you have them on hand, along with a grinding of black pepper. Bring the milk to just below a simmer, then turn off the heat.

Melt the butter in another saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a smooth roux and let it bubble and seethe for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat. If you've infused the milk with bay and onion, strain them out. Add the milk to the roux in three or four batches, beating well after each addition to create a smooth sauce.

Return the thick sauce to low heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in in the cheese until melted, then add the mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste, adding a dash of Worcestershire sauce if you like.

Preheat the broiler and toast the bread. If you're serving rarebit just as it comes, then spread the cheese sauce thickly on the toast. Alternatively, add your veggie extras before spreading on the toast.  Either way, broil the rarebit reasonably slowly, not too close to the heat, so the thick sauce is bubbling hot all the way through before the top gets too brown. Serve right away.

Tomato Rarebit: Top the cheese sauce with a few thick slices of tomato and sprinkle with pepper before placing under the broiler

Celery Rarebit: Thinly slice 4 celery stalks and saute them in a tablespoon of butter for 5 minutes, until tender but still a bit crunchy.  Season and stir into the rarebit mixture before spreading on toast and broiling.

Broccolini or Kale Rarebit: Lay some lightly cooked broccolini or kale across your toast before smothering with cheese sauce and broiling.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Favorite Bready Things!

This week over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are featuring all Bready Things! It just so happens that in my home we are carb-obsessed and so Bready Things are right up our alley! I didn't get around to making a dish this week, but I do want to shout out some of my FAVORITE BREADY THINGS!

Every single one of these recipes have seen repeated visits in my kitchen. They are tried and true favorites. Click on the recipe link to be directed to the original post, which includes the recipe!

A pizza dough crust with a creamy and dreamy sweet Mascarpone base topped with an array of fresh berries makes for a wonderful breakfast or dessert. In fact, this dish is so pretty it is perfect for bridal showers, baby showers, or any other kind of celebration where you need to take a dish!

You wouldn't think an English-born chef would be your go-to for one killer Chicken Po'Boy, but Nigel Slater really delivered on this sandwich. It is quite simple, just a few ingredients, but it is total perfection.  Just looking at that hot and juicy sandwich gets my mouth watering every single time!

Rick Bayless is well represented in this Bready Things roundup and these enchiladas are absolutely amazing!  Do a quick search on Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas and you'll see that they were quite popular with several food bloggers. This is more of a casserole-style enchilada in that the corn tortillas aren't rolled, but layered.  A sauce is made from poblano peppers and spinach and layered in with corn tortillas, chicken, and Monterey cheese. This is an incredible dish!

Don't let the look of this one fool you! It isn't much to look at, but it is one of my favorites in this entire roundup. Just imagine a crusty telera roll smeared with black beans, chorizo, feta cheese, and slices of avocado. Some of my very favorite ingredients all coming together in one sandwich. It is absolutely crave-worthy!


Again, Rick Bayless comes through with another amazing torta. My mom loves this sandwich so much she asks for it for her birthday every year.  Now, this sandwich is a lot of work. You'll need a breading station for the crispy chicken and you'll also need to prepare the garlicky black bean smash, but once you've completed that you have one crazy-good sandwich that will have everyone asking for it again and again.

These corn muffins called my name for the entire six months that we cooked with Curtis Stone. The reason why: one of my favorite bready things is any type of corn muffin.  I just tend to gravitate to them and I knew, without a doubt, that these corn muffins filled with white cheddar cheese, corn, and bacon would be a huge hit in my home! We scarfed these down with some chive butter in record time. Now they've become a staple!

Sometimes I just crave bacon and Jamie Oliver's Bacon Sarnie is a fantastic, and easy way, to satisfy that craving. If you haven't made a Bacon Sarnie, then you need to!

Last, but not least, is my very favorite Banana Bread! Tessa's recipe for banana bread is a little different than other recipes I've tried. There are two different things about this banana bread recipe. The first is that this recipe only uses brown sugar, no white sugar whatsoever, and the brown sugar really shines. Not only can you taste the difference with the brown sugar, but you can also smell the difference and it is so much more complimentary to the banana bread. Secondly, Tessa has you add the baking soda to warm milk, which is a step I've never taken with banana bread, and I swear it makes a difference in both the texture and the overall rising power of the bread.  This banana bread rises so much faster and higher than any other loaf and the overall texture is so much better than others. If you're a banana bread lover, then this recipe is a must try!

Those are some of my favorite bready things! 

What are some of your favorites?