I have another post from Fantastical Food Fight - a monthly blog challenge who's theme this month was Slow Cooker Soups. Yum - so perfect for cold weather! I knew immediately that I wanted to do this Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup that I had made before, but didn't post about. It is so insanely easy and delicious.
All you do is add diced onion, carrots, and celery to a slow cooker, along with wild rice and raw chicken (you don't even have to cut it up).
Add chicken broth and poultry seasoning. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
It's Secret Recipe Club Reveal time! This month I was assigned Cookaholic Wife, written by Nichole. We are both married, in our 30's, on the East Coast, and cat moms. I feel a connection! We also must have similar tastes, because I saved more recipes than I have with any other SRC blog. So bear with me for a bit here, and know that this is the edited down list!
Other sweets that I liked the sound of were Sugar Cream Pie, Stone Fruit Eton Mess, Limoncello Cheesecake Bars, Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake, Lemon and Sour Cream Doughnuts, and Coconut Lime Cookie Bars.
But the overall winner, the one I knew I had to make as soon as I saw it, was this Breakfast Risotto. Creamy risotto with white wine and shallot, finished off with crispy pancetta, Parmesan, and a poached egg. Simple and amazing.
There aren't a ton of ingredients here, just simple classic flavors. And while risotto is a bit labor intensive (you gotta stir, stir, stir to release all that creamy starch), it isn't particularly complicated. I love the bacon and eggs take on this that is reminiscent of carbonara; and who doesn't want breakfast for dinner? Enjoy!
For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Oh! You Cook! (Which is such a cute name.) In addition to writing the blog, Dena has also authored The Everything Kosher Slow Cooker Cookbook - how cool is that?! As you can imagine, her recipes are kosher, but that doesn't mean that you have to be in order to enjoy them!
I was, of course, very interested in the Challah Bread Pudding, and a couple of other desserts including Blueberry Pudding Pie, Raspberry Custard Pie, and Almond Rice Pudding. But I really wanted to make something savory. I loved that she had several recipes that used pomegranate molasses, and ingredient that I love and am always looking for uses for. And the Picadillo Meat Loaf and Honey Mustard Chicken looked very weeknight friendly.
But in the end, I chose the Orecchiette with Veal, Capers, and White Wine. It looked so good (and easy) that I couldn't pass it up.
Start by sauteing onion and garlic, browning the veal, then adding the white wine and allowing it to cook out.
I'm really trying to be better at waking up early enough to get to the Farmer's Market. I love the scene with all the booths and crowds of people, all the adorable puppies and babies. The Mosaic Market even has live music and food trucks. But I am not very good at cooking by the seat of my pants, so after I pick out some yummy looking veg, it usually ends up getting tossed into a pasta. Even more so when the market offers amazing artisan pasta from Pappardelle's Pasta. C'est la vie!
My first batch of veggies (asparagus, tomato, and leek) went into a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce with the garlic chive artisan pappardelle. I cooked the leek down in butter and olive oil, then added some white wine, lemon juice, and pasta water along with chopped tomatoes. When that had cooked to a good sauce consistency, I tossed in blanched asparagus and the cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente). I finished it off with lemon zest, Parmesan, and black pepper and served it with salmon.
I still had tomatoes and a random eggplant that I picked up for no reason, so I decided to do a riff on this pasta. I really should have used a whole wheat pasta, but I just love gemelli and I can't find it in whole wheat anywhere. It's the perfect short shape because it has good structural integrity (meaning it cooks evenly and doesn't get mushy edges).
Anyway, I roasted the eggplant while I caramelized an onion (I really wish I had a red onion, but I didn't). After adding garlic, a splash of sherry, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, I added some chopped tomato and a pat of butter (trying to get the essence of the Marcella Hazan sauce without cooking it for 45 minutes). Then I added in the eggplant, cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente), and a splash of pasta water and let it come together. Then I topped it with fresh basil and black pepper and served it with some hanger steak from the market (one of the few places where I can find it - there's only 1 per cow and they sell fast).
Oh my gosh, you guys. This might be my favorite butternut squash pasta since the life-saving mac and cheese.
Sheets of homemade pasta filled with roasted butternut squash, apple, onion, sausage, and three cheeses; topped with a creamy sage bechamel. It's totally swoon worthy.
The filling is a little complicated, but totally worth it. While your butternut squash is roasting in the oven, mix up and brown your sausage mixture. Did I mention that you are creating your own sausage, so you can adjust the spices to your liking? And you can be sure that there are no weird preservatives or sugar? Awesome. Anyway, next you saute some onions, garlic, and apple. Plus a little white wine - aww, yeah.
Oh my gosh this filling. It's insane. You may want to make extra to use in other ways. I'll talk about that later.
I've written about my favorite lasagna recipe before, but it was years ago and I think it needs to be revisited - especially now that my neighbors confirm it is the best lasagna they have ever had.
The cast of characters is pretty simple, but I think what makes this lasagna stand out is the use of veal and white wine. It's a bit different from the standard, but that's what makes it special.
I really like for my veg to be finely diced for this ragu, so that there aren't any big chunks. But I did not make those perfect cuts on my own - I use a veggie chopper. It's fast and it makes everything uniform.
The other thing that makes this ragu great is that it is simmered for up to 5 hours. That low and slow cooking brings out all the flavor. I highly recommend using San Marzano tomatoes in this, they are just the best.
Americans might be used to the type of lasagna with ricotta and mozzarella, which is fine but not very authentic. This version has a creamy bechamel (aka my favorite food) and tons of Parmesan, and it is just so dreamy.
I really went all out for this batch and made my own lasagna noodles for the first time. It is certainly not necessary to do that, but I do think it took it up one final step to perfection. I did have several issues while doing this, though. The learning curve is pretty steep. Don't try to be clever when you roll out your own pasta and leave the sheets really long - trust me, it makes them almost impossible to cook. Now I know why the store-bought ones are short. I'm also going to edit the pasta dough recipe in the original post because it was awful and really soft and hard to work with.
Anyway, go make the best lasagna of your life. You will thank me. Recipe here.
You know that Forrest Gump quote, "Jenny and me was like peas and carrots."? I could not stop saying that while making and eating this dinner. The classic duo of peas and carrots, back together again in the form of soup and risotto.
This pea soup has a base of English peas, sugar snap peas, and leeks. So much green!
But more importantly, it has bacon. You start by crisping the bacon and removing it. Then, in the same pan, you cook celery, onion, and leek in the bacon fat before adding chicken stock and rosemary. Meanwhile, blanch the peas.
This is a pretty decadent dinner, but sometimes we need a little comfort (and a lot of cream). "Melt in Your Mouth" Chicken is topped with seasoned mayonnaise and baked to make it juicy and flavorful. Creamy Lemon and Chive Farfalle is surprisingly light - with the gentle flavors of white wine, shallot, lemon, and chives.
When Americans think of lasagna, we typically think of the noodles, meat, and melted mozzarella variety. But in many parts of Italy, lasagna is not made with mozzarella. Instead, it uses creamy and fluffy bechamel with Parmesan as the only cheese. This is my favorite type of lasagna, it is much more delicate (and I have a serious bechamel obsession). My favorite recipe (courtesy of Chef Massimiliano Bartoli, Miss Williamsburg Restaurant) also uses ground veal instead of beef, and white wine instead of red - which provides the meat ragu with a really distinctive and tangy flavor. Enjoy the best lasagna recipe ever!
Begin with the Ragu, as it takes several hours to make:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons finely chopped onions
6 tablespoons finely chopped carrots
6 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 pound ground veal
1 cup white wine
1 pound canned or fresh tomatoes (pureed and passed through a strainer)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the veal and brown, breaking up any big chunks of meat. Add the wine, increase the heat and simmer until the pan is once again dry, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and enough water to cover. Bring the sauce to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is deeply flavored and no longer watery, about 4 hours. Season the ragu with salt and pepper and keep warm or refrigerate until ready to use.
3 ounces butter (6tbsp)
3 ounces all-purpose flour (6tbsp)
1 quart milk
Freshly ground nutmeg
Place the milk in the saucepan, and heat over medium-high until bubbles form at the edges of the pan.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until the mixture is creamy and no longer smells floury.
Gradually add the milk to the roux a ladle at a time, working with a wooden spoon after each addition until the mixture is smooth. After all of the milk is incorporated, continue to cook over medium-high, whisking constantly. As the sauce returns to a boil, simmer until it thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 min. Season the bechamel with the nutmeg and salt; cover and keep warm until ready to use.
* Fresh Lasagna, recipe follows (**I use store bought no-boil sheets most of the time**)
* Kosher salt
* Bechamel Sauce
* 3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the pasta, boiling salted water until just tender, drain and refresh in ice water. (**if using no-boil sheets, skip this step**)
Put a thin layer of bechamel in the bottom of a shallow baking dish or a jelly-roll pan. Cover the bechamel with a thin layer of ragu and a little cheese. Top the sauces and cheese with a layer of lasagna noodles. Repeat 6 times ending with a layer of bechamel, ragu and cheese. Bake the lasagna until it is warm at the center and the cheese topping golden brown, about 45 minutes (cover with some aluminum foil if the lasagna browns before it is fully heated).
*EDIT* Fresh Lasagna:
2 cups flour
Pulse the flour, salt, and nutmeg in a food processor to evenly distribute and aerate. Add the eggs. Process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds. (If the dough resembles small pebbles, add water or olive oil 1/2 tsp at a time; if it sticks to the side of the bowl, add flour 1 tbsp at a time.)
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Cut the dough into quarters and roll out one at a time, flouring as needed. Start at the widest setting, then fold the dough into thirds and pass through 2 more times. After that, decrease the width one setting at a time, running the dough through twice for each setting. I like to stop at setting 3 on a 6 level roller for lasagna noodles - a medium thickness. Cut the rolled out pasta in half and either hang on a pasta rack til needed, or layer between parchment paper and plenty of flour on a baking sheet.
To cook - bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, have a large bowl of ice water ready. Cook the noodles in 2 batches for about 1 minute (it doesn't take long), then transfer with tongs to the ice water. Remove, pat dry with a clean towel, and layer between parchment until needed. You can brush with olive oil if you are having problems with sticking.